Would a payment of $10 from most of your patients help your bottom line?
What about $25 or even $100?
If you are like most primary-care physicians, the answer is a resounding “Yes!”
My next question then is: “Why aren’t you finding ways to do this?”
Most doctors, and likely you, continue to practice medicine based upon the health insurance model where they are maintaining the financial state of their practice nearly 100 percent on credit — provide service now and get paid later.
Or hopefully get paid later as the case may now be.
Most every doctor I talk with is afraid to step outside of this model for fear: fear of losing patients and payments and fears of losing their practices due to inability to maintain cash flow and revenue.
And yet, at the same time, most physicians also report feeling very stressed and uneasy operating their financial livelihood in this unpredictable type of arena.
Before taking the big steps towards moving your practice towards a direct-pay system, here are some ways to take small steps — initiating a hybrid model where you file insurance like you’re used to but also get some cash directly from patients:
1. Charge a small fee for “extra” services such as e-mail and text messaging. A local pediatrician in my area charges parents $15/ month for e-mail access.
2. Host different types of classes or group sessions where you charge for attendance. You can get creative and have a cooking class, exercise class, etc. Start doing this on a regular basis and your patients will want to attend.
3. Provide house calls in the evening and/ or weekends where you charge your patients cash for this type of service.
4. Start an online training class where you provide insight, knowledge and guidance--you can run this class on Google + hangouts for free and charge a nominal price.
5. Start selling small items (healthy granola bars, healthy drinks, home-made baked goods, etc.) at check out.
The idea here is to get yourself outside of the locked-in type of thinking that only sees your practice as a “health insurance” provider of services.
Once you can conceptually make the leap (and I hope it is a small leap) that your practice is a business and you need to make money, then it will be much easier for you to start to think of ways of how you can make more money from your patients.
Right now the problem is that you are servicing the patient but getting paid by the insurance companies so you likely have a difficult time asking the patient for money.
This is why it helps to take small steps in this process.
Ultimately I hope that you can start to incorporate some integrative thinking into your business model. Because at the end of the day, bills need to be paid, employees need their paychecks and you deserve to be paid for all the services you provide.
It is time we, as doctors, let go of the singular notion that we can only ask for money from the insurance companies. The patients are our customers and so it is time to start to offer them some opportunities to pay us directly.
Find out more about Craig Koniver and our other Practice Notes bloggers.