“Remember, if Concierge Medicine is about super-servanthood, the [business] model has NOTHING to apologize for, period.” ~Patient Perspective, 2022
“We haven’t arrived yet, because there’s still a lot of work to do out there. They’re still building and learning and educating Patients about why a Doctor is so important to our lives. As slow as healthcare is to change, the realist hope I have personally and professionally is that my kids grand kids will know that this thing we did or maybe still do … in 30 years called Concierge Medicine isn’t a myth, but it is a clear and present reality that set the example of Physicians, hospitals, ERs, and your peers to follow. Concierge Medicine has and is raising the bar so high in hospitality and patient care in healthcare as a whole that yes, it bristles some folks ideals but it’s inspired others who practice medicine to move in their own journey of how healthcare should be and could be delivered. Concierge Medicine Doctors recognized early on that Physicians and Patients are all going to get to the starting line at different times — but that a Patient and Physician should get to the finish line together.” ~CMT, Editor-in-Chief
By Michael Tetreault, Editor-in-Chief | Updated for 2022
About six years ago, I wrote the title of this op/ed and again today I’m revising and updating this article to emphatically state the same message.
“It’s no longer about being the best Doctor in the world any more. It’s about being the best Doctor FOR the world, FOR your patients and FOR your local community.”
If you have made it past year one, five, ten or even 25+ years now in Concierge Medicine, this article is for you!
In fact, it is even for the veteran “DocPreneurs” and curious Physicians out there you rub shoulders with at the hospital or at medical conferences who struggle with what we patients call, “likability.”
First, I want to say you are a DocPreneur.
What we mean by that term is that you as a Physician with entrepreneurial tendencies … see the delivery of healthcare differently than your peers. And, that’s okay.
I love what author and communicator Jon Acuff says, “Be weird until the rest of the world catches up.”
You want the delivery of healthcare to be better today than it was yesterday. You’re always looking for ways to improve the Patient-Physician experience. You want your kids, your grand kids, or maybe even your great grand children to experience a healthcare environment in the future that is a heck of a lot different than the ones you’ve had to deliver or perhaps endured in the recent past.
You want to change the standard, which lets be honest isn’t any ones benchmark, especially Physicians and patients. You want to adjust the status-quo and wake up every morning with a sigh of relief that you’re practicing medicine as Dr. Howard Maron of MD2 said “Medicine in the ideal.”
Perhaps maybe today you can make it better, again!
So I want to encourage you to continue to set the example for your peers.
It isn’t easy. Nothing ever is. But I want you to make healthcare irresistible.
I want you not to be afraid or ashamed of the attention to detail in your paint color, your customer service training that your staff goes through every quarter, your impeccable interior design and even your attention to every minor communication detail inside the exam room, no matter how seemingly small.
I want you to retain your energy at 11am and make every patient feel like they’re at home.
I want you to feel that at the end of the day, you’re energized and that you’ve provided the super-servanthood to everyone that called your cell phone, walked through your door or smiled at you.
I want you to be curious and feel confident that your practice is truly as “unique as you truly are …”
These might seem like lofty goals and potentially unachievable platitudes.
My goal for Doctors is never perfection. It’s progress.
Hopefully, this is a story that resonates for a few of you.
I know that there are and will always be those that disagree with the concept of concierge medicine we all talk about.
And, that’s okay.
But for a moment, let’s unpack an old business principle and make it new for just a moment. Here’s a few life rules you may want to remind yourself and/or your colleagues about.
Rule #1) NOT EVERYBODY LIKES YOU, And It Will Be OKAY.
Acuff recently had this to say in one of our favorite books … When we think about our businesses, we dream about reaching everyone. When you ask an author, “Who is your book for?” they often reply, “Everyone!” … “We tend to think biggest is best and appealing to 0.1% [of an audience] feels a bit like a failure.”
Okay, let’s STOP right there.
Lets push the PAUSE button because here’s a genuine takeaway I don’t want you to miss here.
He said, ‘We tend to think biggest is best and 0.1% feels a bit like a failure.’
Wow! Let that wash over us for just a minute.
I listen to criticism and trust me, I take it way too seriously. I take it home with me and I wrestle with it in the lonely hours of the night. It takes up rental space in my brain that it shouldn’t. Even I should do as we all do, read it, note it, file it away and keep moving forward.
Because there are always going to be people around us who are counting on us to help them.
So, herein brings us to rule # 2.
Rule #2) Keep Better WORRY HOURS.
Doctors always tilt there heads when I say this one at our workshops and at the Concierge Medicine Forum, the annual industry conference.
I love it because once unpacked, this rule is so simple.
‘Keeping better worry hours’ has helped me in business, my health, my faith, our family pressures and even when raising my kids.
It means that we are all naturally going to be concerned, over think some things and worry about one thing or another. But, we don’t have to give that worry or concern all of our attention.
We don’t make good decisions in the lonely hours of the night and losing sleep because of worry can impact your health, your mental health aptitude and effect the people and loved ones all around us.
If I over think something or find myself worrying about this that and the other, I give myself time to wrestle with that emotion and those mental thoughts during the daylight hours of the bright and sunny or cloudy and busy day. Those are the times I can actually do something about it. So by the time my head hits the pillow, I’ve put that issue to bed as well!
Rule #3) Apply Your Own Unique Flavor to Your Idea and Vision of What Healthcare Could Be and Should Be.
What makes you and your practice truly unique?
Another way to rephrase this is … what is your USP or Unique Selling Point.
Your USP and the Doctor down the street are going to be quite different, right?
Your supposed to be different. Your medical degrees and specialties might be similar but you bring something into the world and especially into the exam room that other Doctors around you don’t.
Knowing this and believing this philosophy of ‘I want my medical practice to be irresistible or feel like home’ … isn’t going to appeal to everyone.
Here’s another way to think of it. When we think about “MY PRACTICE NAME,” [INSERT YOUR PRACTICE or NAME HERE] we dream about reaching “everyone.” When you ask a doctor, “Who is your practice for?” they often reply, “Everyone!”
BUT REMEMBER … What you are creating is NOT actually for everyone.
For example, not everyone uses UPS. Fed-Ex is out there too!
So concierge medicine s not about rich vs. poor or even out of pocket dollars vs. insurance. It’s not about elitism or filling a Doctor’s bank account. It’s about the priorities in the eyes of your community related to the service and healthcare you provide. You’re doing what is right and serving patients in your local community.
When you build a business, you build it with a clientele in-mind. You already know as well as I do that trying to serve every Patient doesn’t work. It beat you down, burned you out and know you’re exploring and learning about how you can remain a Physician and enjoy walking into the practice on Monday morning.
Think of Concierge Medicine in another way.
Why is it that when someone you know has a new iPhone or a nice, new car, you know they probably can’t afford those things, right? So why is it, they didn’t join your practice? It’s not always about price. In fact, in most cases, it isn’t about that at all. It’s about relationship. At least according to the thousands of prospective concierge medicine patients we’ve surveyed who have said they are leaving their Doctor and trying to find a Concierge Medicine Physician.
It is all about perceived value in the eyes of the Patient (eg. buyer) and his/her priorities related to their health.
As great of an idea as the automobile was, FORD isn’t the only thing people drive 100 years later.
We all sometimes forget this when we think about growing a medical practice, a business or you re-center and meet with your staff for weekly or monthly staff meetings and talk to them about the week ahead and your goals. It’s glaringly obvious when you walk out the door of your medical practice and something we don’t really even think about that often. That is, your practice is a big part of your community. It’s a staple. It’s a place patients can trust.
Concierge Medicine is one branch of the healthcare marketplace tree. Yes, it is different from others and yet it is a part of the larger and growing body of medical options in your community. And patients want and appreciate options.
Remember, you are an important part of the Free Market Healthcare Delivery Family Tree and not everyone wants to branch out that far. Some will and some won’t. The fact is many will. It’s not your fault they didn’t choose you, yet.
Rule #4) Concierge Medicine has a Likeability and Customer Service Factor That Is Unmatched.
I visit so many medical offices that forget their in the customer service and Customer Facing or Client Facing business. According to the Small Business Chronicle, A key customer-facing business process is convincing members of the target market to buy the product or service and completing deliver.
The easy part about delivering great customer service in healthcare is that everyone thinks going to the doctor is a hassle, a frustration and/or an inconvenience. You don’t have to do much the therefore exceed a Patients expectations because the bar, the so-called standard is so low! You don’t have to meet people’s expectations but you do need to realize you are doing something in healthcare others are never going to do.
It is humbling today for us to accept that with all of the administrative burdens placed on medical offices today … that 50% of your medical practice is simply based on “I just didn’t like the [guy/girl] …”
How true right? How many times have you heard a patient say this when they are describing their Doctor?
I would argue and note that in Concierge Medicine, 100% of your business and your long-term success in medicine is about your ability to be liked by your community of patients and deliver stellar customer service.
“It is so easy to meet a Patients expectations,” said the husband of a Concierge Physician from Alabama we spoke to recently. “It doesn’t take much because it is so bad out there.”
Rule # 5) Realize, Recognize and Lean In to the Bond That Occurs Between A Concierge Doctor, a Patient and that Patients Family.
I recently sat down with five Physicians and asked each of them where they want to be in the next three years, professionally and personally.
Of course, the answers varied somewhat by each individuals personal and family goals but one common thread was present.
They said in their own way … ‘I Want to Create A Closer Bond With Each Patient.’
What a powerful message for both your peers and a Patient.
Today, with nearly 8 out of every 10 Patients we surveyed out of more than 2,000 responses said they have lost faith in their Doctor. Not only that, but we found they want a Doctor that they can ‘Know, Like and Trust.’
Our healthcare marketplace and primary care and family medicine environments today are not set up to create these bonds between Doctor and Patient.
But Concierge Medicine and a few other subscription-based healthcare delivery alternatives do.
As you and I move into the weekend, please be encouraged that there are Doctors out there, like you, who are reading this … who share the same vision of how healthcare should be and could be delivered, as you do!
What you are personally creating in your LOCAL 0-9 mile radius around your medical practice is today, truly designed for everyone, but also a very unique group of Patients.
We may offend some by saying that. We get it. But that is the reality of our culture.
What’s that the Acuff said, “Be weird until the rest of the world catches up?”
In summary, we haven’t arrived yet, because there’s still a lot of work to do out there. We’re all still building. As slow as healthcare is to change, my realistic hope is that my grand kids will know that this thing we did or maybe still do in 30 years called Concierge Medicine isn’t a myth, but a clear and present reality that set the example of others to follow. Continue to raise the bar so high in healthcare and customer service among your patients and peers that it does ruffle their feathers and hopefully inspire some to progress. We’re all going to get to the starting line at different times, and that’s going to be something beautiful to see in the years ahead.
Rule # 6) The good stuff is always the hard stuff.
When you find the right people, meaning those patients who love what you are doing … they will LOVE what you are going to do for them and their health.
Over the past decade now and more having worked in this healthcare space, we’ve read, listened to and talked to countless physicians who have graciously shared and have also been inspired by your stories about Concierge Medicine and the unique bond you have with your patients. They all focus on a few things in their practice each week that make them beloved by their staff, their peers and their patients.
They have the ability to create a culture and healthcare environment that was built on trust vs. price.
Building a great medical practice isn’t easy.
Neither are diets and exercise.
The good stuff is always the hard stuff. (I don’t know who said that so I don’t take credit for it … but I think it’s catchy and you should start saying it to patients …) lol
This doesn’t mean the hard stuff can’t be fun.
Of the countless Concierge Physicians we speak to and meet with each year, we know most, are having a lot more fun than they did the year before and the year before.
Rule # 7) Don’t be afraid. You can change the world of healthcare, one patient at a time!
I want you to remember to be the super star in your own backyard. People in your community are counting on you, their Doctor, to be and do something different than everyone else.
Remember what your colleague from Alabama said … “It is so easy to meet a Patients expectations,” said the husband of a Concierge Physician from Alabama we spoke to recently. “It doesn’t take much because it is so bad out there.”
Finally, we will leave you with this.
Great business people and I’d now argue, great doctors know that “you just need to be a superstar in your own backyard …” and you accomplish that by focusing on your strengths and finding people who want to come along for the ride. Bear in mind though, not everyone will want to join you along the journey. If too many people do … that’s actually, when you raise the fare and see who still believes in your mission and wants to come along for the ride!
More good things are in store for Concierge Medicine and for you in the weeks and months ahead!
PS | “Remember, it is no longer about being the best Doctor in the world anymore. It is about being the best Doctor FOR The World, FOR your Patients and FOR your local community.”
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