The questions you should be asking, and the plans you should be making.
1. Has my income stagnated or decreased?
Over the last ten years, most physicians in private practice have found the revenue their practice generates is not what it once was. Reimbursement rates have declined, and overhead has substantially increased.
If you find yourself in that situation, it may be time to acknowledge these concerns are not going to go away, and consider options for your practice.
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2. Do I think I can continue in private practice until retirement?
Older doctors have to consider their pace and the age at which they’d like to retire. Can you reasonably continue to work this hard and this fast? For those doctors who are nearing retirement, this many not be a cause for concern. They have the patient relationships and the equity in their practice to last a few more years.
But physicians who plan to work for another five years or more may have to consider new options to maintain a stable and secure private practice and a healthy work/life balance. This is especially true for older physicians who love the practice of medicine and intend to put off retirement. Is there a way to slow down the pace but keep the revenue up?
3. What have I done to supplement my income?
Many physicians have supplemented their income by offering patients healthcare programs or products outside of basic healthcare. These kinds of “extras” are often highly valued by patients and sold directly, outside of insurance. They introduce a new, private revenue stream to a practice-one where the doctor sets the price, not the insurance company.
What do you offer outside of reimbursed healthcare services? Have you thought about services and products such as aesthetic services, nutraceuticals and supplements, special weight loss programs, stress relief, or sleep disorder support programs?
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4. Have I explored all the options available to remain independent?
There are many extras physicians can sell directly to patients. One important extra that capitalizes on the care and attention you offer your patients is concierge medicine. It may be the easiest program a physician adds because, unlike aesthetic services or nutraceuticals, it doesn’t require the physician to learn anything new. The program enhances the care and service the physician and the staff already provide patients.
Concierge medicine and other forms of membership medicine are becoming increasingly popular with both physicians and their patients. The fact is, you’re not the only person struggling in this new healthcare marketplace. An aging population of baby boomers need more medical support than ever before, and it’s becoming more and more difficult for them to get that attention.
Concierge medicine allows these patients to purchase an enhanced healthcare experience, complete with the peace of mind that comes with having a physician they know and trust by their side. For physicians, the revenue concierge memberships generate makes a huge difference in their bottom line, while also allowing them to practice a highly enjoyable, personalized form of medicine.
There are many different forms of concierge medicine being practiced today. It no longer has to mean a complete practice transformation. Many doctors now offer the program as simply a service that patients can elect to purchase. It doesn’t have to upend a practice’s patient panel or business structure. The flexible models are uniquely suited for specialists or doctors who don’t want to dismiss any patients.
5. What is my plan for the future of my practice?
Today’s physicians are so busy caring for patients and managing the business end of their practice, many don’t have time to think about the future of their practice. Unfortunately, sometimes things reach a critical point and the doctor may decide to do something rash, like retire abruptly or sell their practice to a large health system, finally putting an end to their worry.
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Before things get to that point, make sure you do your due diligence. Don’t sell yourself or your practice short. There may be revenue left untapped in your practice that can mean you remain strong and independent. You can even add value to your practice with a private program like concierge medicine that means more revenue for you, if the right time to sell does present itself.
This year, resolve to carve out time to learn more about practice alternatives so you are well prepared for whatever comes next.