Occasionally, we meet physicians who are intrigued by the concept of concierge care, but they are fearful about taking that first step. Their fears typically boil down to the same concerns.
1. Does my practice have enough people who would pay for this?
Rarely can physicians analyze and make predictions regarding their own practice. They may see patients who have problems paying their copays and assume a membership program would be impossible. That is not always the case. In full models of concierge care, the number of people who join is critical. If you do not get enough, then there is a real risk of an economic disaster. However, in hybrid models, the question is, how many patients will join? And how much to charge? There is no risk of disaster when properly constructed. If a physician works with experienced people who can properly analyze and accurately predict membership, this concern is easily addressed.
2. What will I have to do for patients who join? Will I become a babysitter?
Physicians worry that they will have to offer special services for member patients, services that they really don't want to provide. While concierge programs are consumer-driven, and patients expect to get value from their payment, there are ways to set levels of expectations so that the program supports membership, and balances the professional and personal needs of the physician. Physicians participating in the programs we develop report that because patients know they can reach them when needed, they rarely get after-hours or weekend calls unless it is a true emergency.
3. Will I be on call more often and have to give up my personal life?
In traditional practices, being on call is commonly shared with a variety of doctors and practices. So, with fewer days on call, the possibility of talking to one of your patients after hours on any given day is small. But when you are scheduled to be on call, it can be overwhelming. Physicians worry that every day will feel like an on-call day. But being on call in a concierge model is different. It's not about a "ball-and-chain" that you wear all the time. It is about a greater opportunity for member patients to reach you in an emergency. You will have far fewer member patients reaching out to you than your typical on-call period. Covering for a small number of patients who respect your time generates very few calls. You can also share call with other physicians, with proper modifications. And of course, when you are compensated for taking the call, it doesn't feel so burdensome.
4. Is concierge medicine legal?
Our company currently operates in 24 states, so yes, if done properly, it is legal. When done poorly, it can be a problem. Experience helps avoid problems.
5. What will my third-party payers say about this?
Concierge programs vary. Third-party payers may have some concerns about programs that are not optional in nature. But optional programs like a hybrid concierge tend to present little problems with third-party payers. Once again, experience helps with managing this issue.
6. Do I have to let my advanced practitioner go — a person who makes my life easier?
If you develop a concierge program, there may be an even greater need for your advanced practitioner, or the provider may no longer be necessary. It really depends on the design of your program. Your program needs to address your goals, the analytics of your practice, and what is best for your patients.
The important thing is to remember is that if you rely on experience, there is no need to be fearful. Be wary of those who claim that they know what they are doing, but have little experience. Check the competition. Examine their level of experience. The last thing you want is to be is the practice that calls in experts to help when it initially does not get the results that it was hoping for. Sometimes it is just too late at that point. Look for a source you trust and with a proven track record of success.