As every medical practice staffer is aware, dealing with insurance companies, chasing down copays and processing denials can cause hours of wasted time. This has led some providers to consider transitioning their practices to a concierge model, where patients pay a fee (typically either annually or monthly) for membership. Although there are some options allowing for a hybrid models, pure concierge medicine is 100 percent cash-only, and serves as an alternative to using health insurance.
Check out five considerations you should keep in mind if you’re thinking about transitioning to a concierge medicine practice.
1. Your Hours May Change
If your practice typically sees patients during certain hours, such as nine to five, that is likely to change under a concierge model. In most cases, a concierge practice will provide 24/7 access to a primary care provider, and the patients will often be able to get same-day appointments. This may mean days when you’re in early and home late, particularly if a virus is going around or if it’s a busy period (for instance, during the summer for a pediatric practice).
2. Prepare to Invest in Technology, Extras
Considering that patients pay a hefty fee to join a concierge practice, they may be expecting “extras” that your current practice doesn’t have. Take a look around and ask if you’d be willing to pay thousands of dollars to visit it. If not, it’s time to upgrade. This could mean investing in technology (like iPads for patients), faster Wifi, bottled water for patients, high-tech diagnostic tools, massage chairs, and any number of other options.
3. You Should Evaluate Your Patient Base
Even if your physicians are beloved, not every patient will choose to stay with the practice if it converts to concierge medicine. It’s not only costly, but some patients just may not understand it after spending their lives dealing with medical insurance-based practices. You’ll need to do a market analysis to determine what percentage of patients you’ll likely lose if you transition to concierge medicine and get a feel for how long it may take you to build up enough patients to make it worth your while.
One hint that you may be in an area where concierge medicine might work for you is if you have a very high collection rate. This could be a sign that patients have money on-hand and are willing to pay swiftly for medical care.
4. You’ll Need to Opt Out of Medicare
You typically can’t enter into a private contract with patients until you formally opt out of Medicare. This allows you to ask patients for out-of-pocket costs rather than having to bill Medicare first. But opting out shouldn’t be taken lightly, particularly since you won’t be able to opt back in for two years, if you choose to do so. Therefore, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of opting out before you take that step.
5. You Must Give Patients Ample Notice
Give patients enough advance notice about your plan to allow them to find new care. Send them a letter letting them know that you’ll be opting out of Medicare and transitioning to concierge medicine. Let them know why you’re doing it, how it will benefit your patients, and when the transition date will be. Give them enough time to ask questions and make the decision about whether concierge medicine is right for them, or to find another doctor.
Interested in hearing more about all-cash medical practices? Watch as healthcare attorney Amanda Waesch, Esq., leads you through the ins and outs of the payer rules around this topic. During her one-hour online training, “Get Paid More With Patient Cash-Only Services & Comply With Payer Rules,” Amanda will give you the step-by-step tips you’ll need to make this transition.
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