“A business is successful to the extent that it provides a product or service that contributes to happiness in all of its forms.” ~Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Why Do Patients Love or Leave A Concierge Medicine Physician?
By Michael Tetreault, Editor-in-Chief, Concierge Medicine Today
To start off with the obvious answer to a common and important question we receive regularly … why do patients leave any medical office, the answer is generally: staff.
There are other valid and very important reasons why patients leave their medical doctor, but in Concierge Medicine specifically, we have observed that staff is the primary reason. Notice, we didn’t cite price or ‘because my doctor only spent 10-minutes with me.’
Now that we have that out of the way … as many people are aware, Concierge Medicine’s strength and albeit, bond with its customer [ie patients] is contained within the relationship that a physician has with his/her patients. It has been this way for more than twenty years now and continues to thrive in various markets.
“My vision is to cultivate a personal Patient – doctor relationship amidst a bustling urban community where impersonal professional relationships are the norm. Our practice strives to deliver quality medical care with an emphasis on evidence based medicine, open communication, easy accessibility, and a focus on customer service. These benefits can lead to an overall improvement in how healthcare is delivered and may ultimately improve outcomes.” ~Dr. Edward Espinosa
Buckhead Concierge Internal Medicine, Atlanta, GA
Annual Renewal and Patient Retention Figures In Concierge Medicine Offices Remain Very High, (typically, mid-90s percentage) In 2017
Observation and early analysis of the retention figures cited by both consultants and independent physicians practicing Concierge Medicine since 2007 or earlier, have proven quite consistent year after year. Both consultancy and independent physicians throughout the past ten years [since 2007] note that ‘as an industry these retention numbers remain incredibly high … annual attrition typically only occurs because of mortality, job changes and/or relocations.’
One interesting component about job or relocation of these patients … [when the physician follows up shortly after their move] finds that Patients who left the care and supervision of a Concierge Medicine Physician still overwhelmingly select another Concierge Medicine practice to join at their new location. Often times, the former Concierge Medicine Physician will be highly involved in the referral and physician selection process by request, throughout this time. This ensures appropriate continuance of care for his/her relocating patient(s).
“In selecting only a small population of clients and providing dedicated counseling sessions, sometimes as often as weekly, allows clients to actively participate in their care plan and to move goals forward at a real-time pace. This enables all of us to realize that healthcare can be a positive experience.”
~Dr. Carrie Bordinko
Paradise Valley, AZ | Consolaré Primary Care
How Long Do Patients Stay Under The Care of A Traditional Physician?
Answer: 5-7 years.
Estimates suggest that a primary care physician would spend 21.7 hours per day to provide all recommended acute, chronic, and preventive care for a panel of 2,500 patients. The average US panel size is about 2,300. ~Source: www.annfammed.org/content/10/5/396.full
According to various physician journals, a Patient will remain a Patient of a traditional primary care doctor in your average family practice or general medicine practice, barring an altering event (like a geographic move, death, loss of job, or other unforeseen circumstance) for 5-7 years.
When Do Older Patients Change Primary Care Physicians?
Older patients, particularly those who are older and have more education and income, tend to stay with their PCPs until they are forced to change. The longer they stay in the relationship, the better they feel about the quality of the primary services they receive. Changes in the health care system may have increased the number of patients forced to change PCP. (J Am Board Fam Pract 2004;17: 453–60.)
How Long Do Patients Stay Under The Care of A Concierge Medicine Physician?
Answer: Data is still being gathered, but is encouraging.
Editor’s Note: Data supporting the cost effectiveness and affordability of Concierge Medicine and other free market healthcare delivery models is intriguing. Long term data on these particular subscription-based Patients is still being compiled. Further analysis is encouraged and supported by marketplace consultants and physicians … and more data to support these common observations should be conducted and published.
What we do know today is that Concierge Medicine, retainer medicine and boutique physicians that have a long, relational-history with their Patients often have high, between 92%-96% annual retention rates. Based upon these trends which we are observing year after year, these [Concierge] practices should soon be reporting levels or percentages at or exceeding traditional primary care and family practice length/duration or care expectations.
Today, knowing the retention of traditional medical practices is 5-7 years, on average, and combined with the fact that a Concierge Medicine practice model provides closer communication and relationship with patients, we should expect that the majority of Concierge Medicine Patients will continue to remain with a retainer-based practitioner longer.
The information observed here is encouraging.
However, as an industry, we still need more patient outcome data to be published to further unpack these trend lines and observations. What we do know for certain is that inside each and every Concierge Medicine office is opportunity to connect a patient with a physician who desires to have a relationship with his community.
“If you are going to build a business and ultimately a great medical practice, that injured, insured, uninsured and other people want to attend … you have to be ready if they actually show up.” ~Michael Tetreault, BOOK: The DocPreneur: 37 Healthy Habits of Entrepreneurial Physicians We’ve Observed Over The Past Decade. — Coming Soon in 2017!
In 2017, We Find The Human Spirit Is Forgiving …
However, Patients Are Keenly Aware At How Traditional Healthcare Practices, Physicians, Insurance Companies and Others Have Treated Them In The Past.
We talk to and receive feedback from new and prospective patients seeking the care and supervision or a Concierge Medicine and Direct Care Doctor each day … and, when we surveyed them … we found the following:
For those prospective consumers still on the fence and casually observing Concierge Medicine there lies a challenge and an opportunity.
- Challenge: Tell them that you care and won’t take advantage of them.
- Opportunity: Provide an environment and atmosphere for people in your community to have conversation [with you, their doctor], not a presentation.
From January of 2017 to present (April 2017), thus far … Concierge Medicine Today has surveyed more than 1,000 real prospective patients of Concierge Medicine who are actually seeking the treatment and care of a Concierge Medicine Physician [nationally]. We uncovered the following:
- 41% – Of Patients Said They Would Prefer to be Treated by an M.D.
- 31% – Of Patients Said They Would Prefer to be Treated by a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.)
- 11% – Of Patients Said They Would Prefer to be Treated by a Physician Assistant (PA)
- 10% – Of Patients Said They Would Prefer to be a Nurse Practitioner (NP)
- 7% – Of Patients Said They Would Prefer to be treated by a Registered Nurse (RN)
Let’s let these figures wash over us for a moment.
- 59% of Americans would opt not to see an M.D., if given the option.
By taking the step into even considering a healthcare delivery option [such as Concierge Medicine], it tells us that the human spirit is forgiving in nature … but they are keenly aware at how they have been treated or mistreated, forgotten in some cases, and that those misfortunes and mistakes by the hands of those they trusted in healthcare have impacted them in the past.
Editor’s Note: Related to the survey, an M.D. was defined as “A primary care physician is a physician who provides both the first contact for a person with an undiagnosed health concern as well as continuing care of varied medical conditions, not limited by cause, organ system, or diagnosis.” Related to the survey, a DO was defined as “Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (DOs) are fully licensed physicians who practice in every medical specialty. They provide a full range of services, from prescribing drugs to performing surgery, and they use the latest medical tools. But DOs offer something special—their unique approach to patient care. (Source: www.osteopathic.org)”
“My focus is on being a trusted advisor and I do not want to have any potential conflict of interests. For example, a lot of doctors make money on supplements, for me I take that out of the equation. In terms of my practice, I just want to focus on providing the best advice I can give my Patients, not worrying about making money off retail.” ~Shira Miller, MD Sherman Oaks, CA | LA’s Menopause and Anti-Aging Doctor www.shiramillermd.com www.facebook.com/menopausedoctor
Here’s the important thing: you are providing an environment for people in your community to have conversation [with you, their doctor], not a presentation. Now that you are armed with specific insight into consumer and patient intelligence, your next step should simply be to create an atmosphere in your medical practice where curious people are comfortable enough to have a conversation with you — and it is your job to put their doubts into words and to hear why they are considering leaving their current doctor or joining yours. This is happening in nearly every community across the country in 2017 … and it is your job to make each person feel heard, noticed and appreciated.
“The Patients who came with me love it, and they tell me so often, unsolicited, how glad they are that I made the switch.” ~Alexa Faraday, M.D., Baltimore, Maryland | www.DrAlexaFaraday.com
When a physician is free to create pricing structures that meet their local demographic demands without the intrusion from insurance and avoid providing “hamster healthcare,” which only allows doctors to spend 6 to 9 minutes with their Patients, you make a happier Patient, healthier family and less frustrated and fatigued doctor who is able to care for their Patients more thoroughly and comprehensively. ~The Doctor’s Guide to Concierge Medicine & Private, Direct Medicine
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