By now, you’ve probably heard of the latest trend in physiotherapy practice models: concierge clinics. For many practice owners, or future practice owners, the idea of spending as much time as necessary with each patient and offering a completely holistic approach to care seems like a dream. After all, concierge physiotherapists have complete freedom to treat their patients as they see fit, without having to cut corners or remain at the mercy of insurers. But can this dream be a reality for PTs, or is it just a hype? See the list below for the pros and cons of providing concierge physiotherapy services:
You are not limited to 30-minute meeting slots.
Most physiotherapists know the struggle of devoting enough one-on-one time to each patient. In a recent webinar with Castle Connolly Private Health Partners, LLC, Paul Knoepflmacher, MD, who owns Knoepflmacher CCPHP, explained how concierge models allow providers to use the full extent of their knowledge and dedicate the time necessary to treat each patient to the best of their ability: “There are days when I might have a two hours, ”because concierge health care takes the pressure off cramming as many patients as possible into an eight-hour day, he noted. Knoepflmacher went on to say that “there is a level of comfort when it comes to scheduling patients for as long as needed.”
You develop an unparalleled relationship with patients.
When you practice in a concierge clinic, patients can come to you for anything and everything. As a result, concierge service providers get a complete picture of their patients’ health – not just a part of it – which creates a high level of trust. When you know the magnitude of your patients’ situation, you become a trusted advisor, advocate and resource.
According to Dean McElwain, President, Chief Operating Officer (COO) and Co-Founder of Castle Connolly, “It’s about experiencing the type of environment in which you receive your care. You can communicate with patients at any time, and you can set an appointment for the next day “rather than waiting weeks – or in some cases months – to enter. During the COVID-19 pandemic, McElwain says the wellness experience at CCPHP’s partner practices has been very meaningful for patients who cannot a gym or who have struggled to cope with the stress of the pandemic .
You can provide a highly personalized experience.
During the aforementioned webinar, Kim Parks, MD, the owner of Private Health Synergy, explained how the freedom of a concierge-based model allowed her to fill an ambulatory care gap in her community and focus her practice on well-being, nutrition and stress management.
Synergy Private Health has a stress management room and on-site kitchen where patients can drop by for cooking classes. Parks says this has been incredibly beneficial for his patients during the coronavirus pandemic, as it “created an opportunity [for patients] start doing online cooking classes’ and connect socially. His practice has even organized several town hall-style sessions to answer patient questions and alleviate anxieties related to COVID-19. According to Parks, “these are some of the most frequented programs in our practice”.
Income is more stable, even during an economic downturn.
Another benefit of using a concierge model in your physiotherapy practice is the financial predictability and the peace of mind that stability brings with it. Instead of relying on insurers to reimburse your practice on a timely basis, a significant portion of your income comes from regular contributions, which means you can better budget for expenses. Parks and Knoepflmacher spoke about the financial security the concierge practice model has lent to their practices during the COVID-19 pandemic, noting that this relieved much of their anxiety about finances during the lockdown.
There is less burnout.
All of the above creates a huge advantage for PT concierge services: a real solution for Burnout. You’ve probably heard the term “moral prejudice” circulating, which like This article of Stat News explains – refers to “committing, failing to prevent, witness or learn acts that violate deeply held moral beliefs and expectations”.
In the context of physiotherapy, hurt feelings can refer to the inability of a PT to provide adequate care due to payer restrictions, appointment length constraints, and other common barriers. But, according to Knoepflmacher, this problem is all but eradicated with a concierge-based approach.
Making the switch can be stressful.
Do you think the benefits mentioned above make a janitorial office too good to be true? You’re not alone. After all, flipping your entire practice pattern can be a major challenge. “The most stressful moment was the transition from a traditional practice to a concierge practice,” explained Knoepflmacher. A great solution to this problem is to partner with an entity that can offer you expertise and guidance as you transition, while providing reassurance throughout the process. This could mean hiring a consultant or partnering with an existing group of janitorial practices.
Not all patients are ready to pay a membership fee.
While many patients enjoy the benefits of paying a single upfront payment for virtually unlimited access to health services, the concept can be a tough sell for some. However, concierge patients often end up spending less overall than they would with a traditional provider. If that isn’t enough to convince patients to try the concierge service, you can offer an alternative pricing structure for patients who are uncomfortable with the usual membership fees.
According to McElwain, some practices offer an annual subscription fee that can be adjusted per patient. In Knoepflrmacher’s practice he was able to acquire vested interests for many of his long-term patients at a reduced rate or to offer rates adjusted to suit the patient’s circumstances. Park, on the other hand, wanted to be able to widely serve patients who might not otherwise be able to afford her fees, so she implemented a service option specifically for those who use insurance – and sometimes sees certain patients for free.
The Medicare Dilemma
Medicare presents concierge practices with another major payment problem, as patients who wish to obtain concierge services in cash are legally prevented from paying out-of-pocket for services covered by Medicare. So if you want to serve the Medicare population, you will still need to be licensed with Medicare, and you will want to learn the the ins and outs of providing cash services to Medicare beneficiaries.
For more information on how to serve Medicare patients in cash, see This article from the WebPT blog.
Sometimes patients face additional costs.
While membership fees cover a lot of services, there are bound to be outliers – and patients can feel blinded by these additional costs. For this reason, it is essential to inform new patients of any additional expenses they may incur before providing services that are not covered by the membership fee.
Knoepflmacher’s practice provides a list of services that are not covered by the concierge fee, which patients can then submit to their insurance for reimbursement. Additionally, many janitorial service providers are accredited with insurance payers. If you are one of them, you should do your best to be completely transparent about the insurances you are accredited with, whether that is by providing a list of payers during the initial patient consultation or by posting it on your site. Web.
So there you have it: the pros and cons of concierge-based physiotherapy. Do you have questions about concierge services? Leave them in the comments section below and we’ll do our best to get you an answer.