By Editor-in-Chief, Concierge Medicine Today/The DPC Journal & Host, The DocPreneur Leadership Podcast
Do you remember your own kids first steps?
It took practice. They were pretty unsteady for a short time but then, days or weeks later, we have a hard time recalling a time when they were just crawling around.
Sometimes it takes months or years to get to a big moment. The hardest part was taking those shaky first steps.
Once we did, it soon became a natural muscle memory and movement for most of us.
Wading into the stream of Concierge Medicine and/or other Subscription-based Healthcare Delivery can be intimidating as well. You’re not a lone. But once you take the first step, Physicians eventually find their shaky footing on solid ground. Soon, they recall those hurried days of seeing eight patients per hour as a distant memory and cannot imagine practicing medicine any other way.
If you’ve taken an important first few steps into your learning journey into this space then you know that it has become a career lifeline for thousands of Physicians and healthcare professionals across the U.S. and abroad. Congratulations!
But what if you haven’t taken your first step. Maybe you’re wondering what is involved? You’re in the right place. Here’s a few simple steps you can take to get started.
Step 1. Become a student and read.
Get educated. Moving into anything with a little knowledge can give you a big advantage.
But scribbles on the back of a napkin and talking with one of your enthusiastic peers at a conference is not a strategy. It’s the birth of a vision but your vision needs to be nurtured.
In fact, it’s a little known fact that in Concierge Medicine for example, the medical offices with full patient panels are led by Physicians who read and/or listen to 4 to 6 books about business, entrepreneurship, leadership and customer service per month.
That’s a tell-tale sign of the quality of a great DocPreneur!
So, if there is one thing I know about you (eg. a Physician), it’s that you know how to learn stuff and study.
Like, a lot.
You know how to study, decompress and retain knowledge and you’re some of the worlds best minds.
EDITOR: “The billing model changed, but I didn’t.”
So the first step for many of you should be to start reading as much as you can get your hands on related to business, leading others well, entrepreneurship, marketing and customer service. As a service to the industry and to Physicians, we put together a Peer Recommended, Physician Reading List twice a year for the past several years. You can access that list here.
A really, really helpful book I personally recommend that isn’t comprised of a singular perspective is The Doctor’s Guide to Concierge Medicine and Private, Direct Care Delivery.
After having coached, sat down with, spoken to, counseled, encouraged and interviewed countless Physicians over the years I would recommend you start by reading this Doctor’s Guide so you can get your hands on industry-specific insights related to subscription-based healthcare delivery model basics.
It’s a great book and an even better industry resource already used for years by your peers and has led many Physicians to a medical practice pathway that has become a career lifeline for them. It’s called The Doctor’s Guide to Concierge Medicine and Private, Direct Care Delivery.
“We physicians have needed a “how to” book for along time to help us transform our practices, returning to what we went into the medical field for anyway, and that is to have a personal relationship with our patients…a relationship without the insurance company middlemen or interference in the doctor patient relationship. A great “how to” book with great information on not only how to do it, but how to avoid the pitfalls. I love this book and appreciate the information it contains and the resources it lists for rebuilding my practice…truly going Back to the Basics ( the name of my new practice) in caring for patients as their partner in their healthcare…..just the way it WAS and should be again!” ~Amazon.com, Physician, October 26, 2015
Step 2. Talk to All Industry Consultants to Get Critical Perspectives, Shorten Your Knowledge Gap and Ask Questions.
If you are like most Physician’s then I totally understand the tension that exists between the business person and the clinician.
We’ve heard it said “I don’t want a non-clinician telling me how to practice medicine.”
Totally understandable and reasonable.
I don’t see that happening in most cases here in this space when a Physician asks for help with running their business of changing their financial model.
It takes planning. It takes insights that you may not currently have. So all I’m saying is start by having a conversation with consultants who are working alongside Physicians every day in this unique niche in healthcare. They can and are helping a lot of Doctors.
We cannot recommend one over another but what we can do is provide the list of many that you can talk to. And you should talk to all of them.
If you’re new here, as a reader of our industry trade publications, CMT and our sister publication, The DPC Journal, you have access to some of the most powerful resources and industry-specific insights available. This is a community of Physicians and fellow small business owners and healthcare experts and entrepreneurs that you can always talk to, learn from and grow with.
But that’s just a start.
Often you need to shortcut your knowledge gap. Industry consultants have a wide range of knowledge that you can and should know about. We can typically put more research into which refrigerator we’re going to buy than our business. Don’t make that mistake. Industry consultants have seen it all and have helped countless Physicians move into this space with grace and ease.
Make no mistake, you’ve started your journey into this industry at the right time. And, you’re not too late.
You’re also not entirely early anymore either. Now is the perfect time.
But just as we took baby steps as a child or remember seeing our grandchildren take their first steps, ‘now is exactly the right time.’
But it takes time, so be patient.
As one of our favorite authors, Jon Acuff, says “You may currently feel caught between the tension of your day job and your dream job …” but there are a lot of resources that can help you as a Physician, both young and seasoned in your career move forward with your vision of how healthcare could be and should be in your local community.
As Acuff adds, that gap between what you have to do and what you’d love to do needs to shrink.
Step 3. One conversation or conference is not a strategic business plan.
Too often we see Physicians, particularly young Doctors (30’s and 40’s) take one of two paths.
First, they quickly move into building leases, buy equipment they can’t afford, write up marketing brochures which are written as opinion pieces and editorials about how awful health insurance is and how they are going to be a much better alternative.
Medical Marketing 101: What does a tree service, a grocery store and a pizza place know that Doctor’s don’t?
The second path, albeit just as detrimental to a Physician’s wallet, their psyche and their spirits is they think micro. Meaning, they go the lean and mean route whereby the office is about as small as it can possibly can be and have as little overhead as they can. They have price points on their subscriptions that barely pay the lease, let alone the utility bill.
If you are one of the thousands of Physicians, emergency room doctors or recent medical school graduates currently considering starting up a direct primary care, a telehealth subscription-based program, a micro-practice or even a concierge medicine practice selling exceptional service, time or home visits … please, consider your start-up budget, forecast your expenses on paper, on purpose first. Most if not all of your peers running medical practices today (and I’m certain your spouse), would tell you that the movie line “If you build it they will come …” is a great movie line, but it is a poor business strategy.
What most Physicians, particularly those in Concierge Medicine have done is use a consultant. They provide valuable expertise in a time of uncertainty and have led Physicians, like you, down the path to success. You would be wise to lean into their expertise and services if you are moving into this space. We’ve compiled a list of resources, consultants and the like for you here.
Step 4. Know the nuances of different models and choose the one right for your area.
If you’re considering a move or entry into Direct Primary Care (DPC), which is different from a Concierge Medicine model by the way, you’d also be wise to learn the subtle differences here.
Think about your location and the hours you will or want to be be working.
It is no secret that healthcare has a pricing problem.
Furthermore, Doctors have a customer service problem.
And, why is it that 8/10 prospective patients searching for a new Doctor in today’s healthcare marketplace say they left their former Physician/Practice because “We didn’t have a relationship either way.”
What we see that is truly unique about each of these subscription-based healthcare delivery models is that they both desire to bring the Physician and Patient closer together.
Is one better than another? Absolutely not.
If anyone tells you different, that’s simply their opinion.
Believe it or not, when a Patient is asked what’s more important, Price, Convenience or Relationship, “Relationship with my Doctor” wins 7/10 times, every time.
So regardless of price, perception or optics, our publications (eg Concierge Medicine Today and The Direct Primary Care Journal) are coming together to educate and inform our communities, Physicians and Patients who actually want to learn more [and are open to learning new things] about the great things that are happening in each of these subscription-based healthcare delivery models and how Doctors and Patients are finding success in them.
We invite you to learn how to clarify, explain and understand in greater detail the differences and similarities between these two great subscription-based healthcare delivery models in your sphere of influence.
Great Doctors and great people in our past have designed these business models to be independently unique enough for different people and different demographics. We can all learn from each other and we should. Ultimately, we are all working toward the same goal and traveling towards the same destination … that is bringing the Patient and Physician closer together. We must be open-minded that there are going to be multiple pathways to get there. Putting a lid on innovation simply because you don’t like the term, the cost or the like stifles innovation. Isn’t that why you left your previous station in healthcare?
As we say a lot around here … “It’s no longer about being the best Doctor in the world, it’s about being the best Doctor FOR the world.”
Step 4. What Will Your Service Offering Be?
The next thing you should consider is the services you will be selling or offering to Patients and the business model you want to use.
The old adage, ‘plan your work – then work your plan.’
Patients, start-up capital, leased space and even employees will follow on the heels of a confident leader that has a plan.
Physicians today considering entering this niche marketplace must understand that doing good work by caring for the patient isn’t the whole job.
Part of ‘getting there’ (the job you dream of), is that things like the unique services you incorporate into your physician-patient contract actually matter — even when you don’t think they will.
My favorite story to write is from the physician who transitioned in the past two or three years and says ‘I wish I had done this years ago.’
RELATED STORY | CMTs Industry DocPreneur Leadership Podcast
EP 367 | How Doctors Can Set Healthy Boundaries With Friends and Family Who Ask You To Work For Free
So, before You Take The Next Step To Pursue A Concierge Medicine or Direct Primary Care Model For Your Local Area, We’ve Put Together the Fifteen categories to help you Self-Evaluate Yourself and Your Practice Before You Take The Next Steps.
Step 5. Enjoy the journey.
As Acuff adds, ‘There are only two paths in life: average and awesome. The average path is easy because all you have to do is nothing.’
All of this and much more is available at your fingertips here at Concierge Medicine Today and our sister publication, The Direct Primary Care Journal.
We want to encourage you to get involved, get motivated and use the resources above to help you in your discovery of Membership Medicine.
You won’t regret it!
Our door, our events, our resources, they are always open to you and your staff and if you have any questions whatsoever.
Additional Industry Educational Resources
DISCLAIMER; WE ARE NOT IN THE BUSINESS OF OFFERING ANY TYPE OF LEGAL OR FINANCIAL INFORMATION REGARDING YOUR SPECIFIC SITUATION. THE AUTHOR OF THIS ARTICLE, THE PUBLICATION, BOOK, REFERENCES, CITATIONS, WEB SITE(S), AND ALL OTHER ASSOCIATED REFERENCE TIPS, GUIDES AND MATERIALS ABOVE ARE DESIGNED TO PROVIDE ACCURATE AND AUTHORITATIVE INFORMATION WITH REGARD TO THE SUBJECT MATTER COVERED. THE INFORMATION IS GIVEN WITH THE UNDERSTANDING THAT THE AUTHORS, PUBLISHERS, DISTRIBUTORS AND ITS RELATED AFFILIATED OR SUBSIDIARY COMPANIES ARE NOT ENGAGING IN OR RENDERING LEGAL, ACCOUNTING OR OTHER PROFESSIONAL ADVICE. THE AUTHORS, PUBLISHERS, DISTRIBUTORS AND ITS RELATED, AFFILIATED OR SUBSIDIARY COMPANIES, STRESS THAT SINCE THE DETAILS OF AN INDIVIDUAL’S PERSONAL SITUATION ARE FACT-DEPENDENT, YOU SHOULD SEEK THE ADDITIONAL SERVICES OF A COMPETENT PROFESSIONAL FOR LEGAL, ACCOUNTING AND BUSINESS ADVICE FOR YOUR INDIVIDUAL PRACTICE. IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO EVALUATE THE ACCURACY, COMPLETENESS AND USEFULNESS OF ANY OPINIONS, ADVICE, SERVICES OR OTHER INFORMATION PROVIDED AS IT PERTAINS TO YOUR PRACTICE. ALL INFORMATION CONTAINED IS DISTRIBUTED WITH THE UNDERSTANDING THAT THE AUTHORS, PUBLISHERS, DISTRIBUTORS AND ITS RELATED, AFFILIATED OR SUBSIDIARY COMPANIES, ARE NOT RENDERING LEGAL, ACCOUNTING OR OTHER PROFESSIONAL ADVICE OR OPINIONS ON SPECIFIC FACTS OR MATTERS, AND ACCORDINGLY ASSUME NO LIABILITY WHATSOEVER IN CONNECTION WITH ITS USE. CONSULT YOUR OWN LEGAL OR TAX ADVISOR WITH RESPECT TO YOUR PERSONAL SITUATION. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHORS, PUBLISHERS, DISTRIBUTORS AND ITS RELATED, AFFILIATED OR SUBSIDIARY COMPANIES, BE LIABLE FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, SPECIAL, INCIDENTAL OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES ARISING OUT OF THE USE OF THE INFORMATION HEREIN. To see the entire disclaimer, click here.
Categories: dpc, Insights & Analysis, Legal, Marketing