WHAT SOME DOCTORS LEARNED As a Result of COVID-19: When A Doctor Goes “Radio Silent” Patients Wonder Why and Leave the Practice.
SUCCESS in any Membership Medicine Practice is about serving. It is a business that has customers that vote with their wallets, not an insurance card. Trust and relationships between doctor and patient take time to develop but mature quickly in these environments. When you understand the servant nature of Membership Medicine (i.e. DPC), you’re on your way to becoming not just a good Doctor, but a trusted friend.
By Michael Tetreault, Editor-in-Chief, Concierge Medicine Today, The DPC Journal
MAY 8, 2016 – Concierge Medicine has come a long way in 20-years. Direct Primary Care (DPC) has come a long way in the past three years as well. Both very different from each other but similar in the servant-hood framework.
Concierge Medicine Celebrates 20-Years in 2016
Each and every single day of the week a member of our staff speaks with a physician or their staff member about what is taking place in their local economy, community and the nation at-large.
One of the most common questions we hear being repeated over the past few months is “How much and I worth?” followed by “How much should I charge?” and “How do I communicate value to my patients?”
Complex questions with sometimes complicated answers. More often than not, physicians are undervaluing themselves, their fees and finding that they are worth far more in the eyes of their subscribers than they originally thought.
We’ve often heard the phrase … “People don’t really care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”
If Concierge Medicine is about “super servant-hood,” then it has nothing to apologize for.
If you provide a more sophisticated test, an amazing and dynamic educational and medical atmosphere that people love coming back to again and again, week after week and month after month, that’s when you know you’ve arrived. Own it. Exceed their expectations each and every day. Long gone are the days when visiting a doctors office is equated with visiting the DMV. This is particularly true in the evolving Free Market Healthcare Delivery space in centers such as retail healthcare clinics, Direct Pay Physician Clinics, Employer-provided primary care suites and inside Concierge Medical offices. These environments offer something different.
“You have to define what “exceptional” means … You want patients to come back in the following days for another round of offending. Present the truth of medicine in uncompromising terms, rally hard against couch potatoes, and tackle the most emotionally charged topics in their lives, while providing an “environment” where people feel cared for.”
For some physicians, they’re young and they have no loyal patient-base to speak of. They meet with our DocPreneur Institute Physician Coaches and Business Mentors and ask “I don’t have much experience. How do I overcome that?”
Well, the answer lies in servant-hood.
People do business with other people they know, like and trust. That’s a business principle that holds water. When you don’t have experience, which often is the case in younger Free Market Healthcare Delivery practice models, you can often make up for this in likability.
However, relationships take time to develop. We don’t have much data on patient retention in Concierge Medicine as the industry is only 20-years old. That may sound like a lot, but did you know that most patients will remain at one primary care physician office for approximately 5-7 years? That’s in a traditional, managed care, insurance setting with no membership or retainer fee. We’ve surveyed Concierge Medicine patients over the past several years and found that patient retention inside Concierge Medicine (i.e. medical offices which accept some insurance and charge an annual retainer) offices is even longer, usually 7 to 9 years. Now that’s nothing short of greatness.
“Direct primary care, and it’s forerunner Concierge medicine, offer a spectrum of free-market, patient-centered, responses to a broken “insurer-centered” complex and costly healthcare system. They represent a win/win/win for patients, employers and providers and have proven to improve outcomes, service, and reduce overall health costs. The most intelligent consumers skip the middleman and invest in Physicians who work for them, rather than enable the “system” where the only winners are the medical industrial complex. “
New Patients are Customers until they say so.
Acquiring and building a relationship with a Concierge Medicine Patient takes time. You need to actively reach out to your new customers until the point where they and you feel comfortable enough to call them patients. Relate to your new customers as real people. Tell them how you are going to serve them.
“Being a good physician is not just about knowing how to diagnose and treat disease. Honestly…that’s what books and studying is for. Being a good doctor entails earning the trust of your patients by being honest and forthcoming. It means knowing how to communicate effectively while still remaining sympathetic. It requires you, first and foremost, to be a human being. It honestly bothers me that young doctors feel like they have to “know everything” to be a great physician. Put down the damn book and go talk to your patient. Be a friggin human being. Be a friend. Its really that simple.” ~ Tiffany Sizemore-Ruiz, D.O. of Choice Physicians of South Florida.
Throughout last year (2015), we conducted a follow-up Concierge Physician poll through our flagship publication, Concierge Medicine Today and asked what type of phone calls does a Concierge Doctor receive on a daily or weekly basis? The results were similar to those we had received years ago, with one “Other” addition that became quite common through the life of the poll. That was … “My patients feel comfortable enough to call and complain about my staff.”
That statement of transparency and trust between doctor and patient shows an incredible amount of trust and confidence.
Remember when you first started dating your spouse? If they handed you a file on all of their past relationships on date number one, would you by the end of the date say “yes, we’re in a very committed relationship, actually, we’re engaged!”
No. Absolutely not. Everyone in a knee-cap to knee-cap exam room relationship understands that relationships take time.
This is a critical step you don’t want to miss. When you offer a Concierge Medicine Patient new service options, atmospheric or operational upgrades, payment options, etc., you create memorable experiences that increase the value of your medical practice and your personal brand. With building the relationship at the forefront of your mind each day, you’ll create a clinic that people want to be a part of. And today, if you want your Concierge Medicine Practice to succeed, then you better be memorable. The people who matter to you need to remember you when they have an allergic reaction, seemingly silly questions, get sick or need emergent care. Are you serving them with a servant mentality during these dark times?
“I became a concierge physician for the same reason I became a doctor – I want to help people. With this model, I can continue to help people even when traditional medicine changes significantly. When a patient has a “one more thing, Doctor…,” the last thing I want to do is to cut the patient off. Patients deserve to be involved in their care and receive the valuable service of planning for optimal health with the guidance of a family physician who is dedicated to the care of the patient.” ~Dr. Brian Nadolne, MD, Marietta, GA
There is a slight difference between being memorable as opposed to merely standing out. To learn more about these strategies and more, check out our Faculty, Coaches and DocPreneur Institute Business Physician Mentors, at: www.theDocPreneur.org or call tel. (770) 455-1650.