By Staff Writer, Concierge Medicine Today
HIGHLAND PARK, Ill., July 30, 2014 – Concierge medicine is quickly expanding in the United States, attracting more physicians and patients, along with a growing number of competing practice transition companies. Although it is difficult to gather accurate statistics, data obtained from the American Academy of Private Physicians in 2012 estimated that more than 1.5 million Americans and more than 4,500 internists and family medicine practitioners were participating in some model of concierge or personalized care medicine. The recent lawsuit filed against MDVIP, the largest concierge medicine membership program, by rival SignatureMD, alleges unfair anti-competitive practices. This litigation illuminates just how significant this growing trend has become in the health care marketplace.
The number of doctors entering concierge practices is growing, according to observers, who caution that exact numbers are hard to come by. But the shift has been gradual, as has the acceptance by consumers.
The “Franchise” Concierge Medicine Marketplace
About 7 percent of physicians nationwide are considering moving to direct pay or concierge medicine in the next one to three years, according to a survey of nearly 14,000 doctors in the U.S. conducted by Merritt Hawkins, a physician search and consulting firm.
Estimates of the number of practicing concierge-style doctors vary, but Concierge Medicine Today, a trade group, pegs it at about 12,000. Other estimates are lower. That’s a small percentage of the total number of primary care, internal medicine and family medicine doctors, the group most likely to employ the model.
“We believe all physicians should have options when choosing a consulting company to assist them. This is a critical decision, one that can transform not just their medical practices, but their lives,” explains Roberta Greenspan, President, Specialdocs Consultants, a national consulting firm assisting physicians in their transition to concierge medicine.
Specialdocs advises physicians to consider the following important questions as they evaluate the expanding list of choices in concierge consulting firms.
- Autonomous vs. corporate? Do I want to maintain an entrepreneurial practice that reflects my brand to my patients in the community I serve, or am I comfortable being part of a corporate brand that includes multiple physician practices? Determine upfront whether your practice can fit into a template business model; if not, you may want to consider a firm that offers a more personalized practice design approach.
- Am I comfortable with the terms and restrictions in my concierge contract? It’s very important to understand the contract terms, length, fees and restrictions, as they vary greatly among concierge medicine practice consulting firms. Some physicians prefer the security of a long-term, but more restrictive contract, while others prefer a less restrictive agreement like that of Specialdocs, which offers the option to re-sign after an initial shorter term consulting engagement or the freedom to leave with no exit restrictions.
- Short term support or ongoing partnership? Should I choose a concierge medicine consulting firm that provides a brief “how to” for initial enrollment, or will I thrive with a more strategic advisory partnership that ensures patient retention and practice growth? The patient renewal rate for Specialdocs’ physician practices is 94 to 97 percent.
- Does the concierge consulting firm’s experience, reputation and personality put me in a comfort zone? Simply put, examine several options, have ongoing dialogue, meet in person, and look deeply into each concierge firm’s long-term reputation. Get feedback from physicians both in and out of contract with their consulting firm. Ensure they were truly pleased with their decision and experience.
Specialdocs is a health care consulting firm dedicated to transitioning traditional medical practices to custom-designed, concierge medicine models, and provides ongoing support for those practices already transitioned. Since 2002, Specialdocs has successfully transitioned more than 150 medical practices in 30 states, growing almost exclusively through satisfied physician referrals. www.specialdocs.com