It's no surprise that more and more physicians are turning to concierge practice models, particularly hybrid models. But did you know that more patients are joining concierge programs than ever before? We work with large- and small-physician practices from coast to coast, and in the last few months, we can say definitively that the tide has turned — concierge medicine is booming. If you understand the reasons why patients, doctors, and even physician groups are joining, it can help you to decide if a concierge model could work in your practice.
Why are physicians interested in concierge care?
• Enhanced compensation for the areas of patient care and service that are not properly valued in today's reimbursement models.
• Greater stability in an unpredictable future. It is not only about the changes that appear to be inevitable. It is the ability to adapt in time to stay afloat.
• More control of the healthcare process. A concierge doctor has a greater say, a rebalancing of the control that has drifted toward insurers and plans.
• Recognition of excellence as defined by the patient.
Why are physician groups interested in concierge care?
• A growing market for the hybrid concierge model. With the emphasis on low-cost delivery of care, there is a growing segment of the patient market that is willing to turn to some form of self payment to get the type of care they want — high-level, personalized care delivered with convenience, all the original components of the medical home concept.
• Hybrid concierge does not interfere with established revenue paths in standard, vertically integrated systems, like captured referrals and ancillary services. It is a great way for groups to deliver both a traditional medical model as well as a high-level service program that taps into direct payment revenue in a volitional manner.
• There are many more regions of the country that can support a hybrid concierge model, versus full concierge programs.
• Practices with concierge programs are becoming more desirable in recent acquisition situations. Particularly with hybrid programs, their continuation in large groups has proved to be economically beneficial and consistent within the practice strategies.
• Physicians have a greater ability to positively impact their income through a direct patient payment approach, especially while adequate future compensation by traditional insurers is in doubt.
Most importantly, why are patients interested in concierge care?
What is motivating them to join?
• Concierge programs have become common. The idea of paying for enhanced services is no longer shocking in many markets.
• More than ever, patients feel an urgent need to lock in a relationship with their physician. The media coverage of changes in the healthcare landscape has patients fearful, and is very motivating. Patients want the peace of mind knowing that their trusted physician will be there for them.
• Successful hybrid concierge programs have started even in rural areas and locations that never before could have supported a fee-based membership program. No matter the market, many patients want to secure their physician.
• Even traditional patients are joining concierge programs, even years after their physician's initial program has launched. Our membership marketing programs have seen a 30 percent increase in the member conversion rate in the past six months alone.
For all of these reasons, this year we have had the most successful number of hybrid starts in the history of our company. Concierge care medicine, particularly hybrid concierge care, is realizing its highest level of success and growth since it began over thirteen years ago. And we expect this trend to continue. With more than ten years in the market, our experience is that more patients than ever are joining concierge programs, that a much greater percentage of patients are interested in joining concierge programs, and that — for our physician clients — the level of success has grown for each practice that has opened in the last year. If you've ever considered a concierge model, the iron is hot — it's time to strike.
Originally appeared in Physicians Practice February 14, 2014