How To Explain Concierge Medicine To Patients
For a physician making the conversion from a traditional practice to a concierge model, it’s important to know how to explain concierge medicine to patients. Additionally, you need to be able to talk to them about why you are making the change. After all, they are the other half of the equation.
Whether you’re discussing this one-on-one, or presenting it during an information-gathering event, the key is to focus on the benefits to your patients. As a specific example, we spoke to SignatureMD affiliated physician, Dr. Joel Meshulam about how he presented his transition to explain concierge medicine to patients. Check it out:
As Joel stated, he was sensitive to the public perception of what it’s like to be a doctor, so he adjusted his messaging accordingly:
My patients were obviously questioning why I was doing this, and I didn’t know if the answers that I had in my mind would resonate with them. I’m not sure how much the general public understands the pressure that a doctor has in their day-to-day life. I think the reality is what we who are in this business know it to be, but I think the perception is that we’re well to do, privileged, have everything we want, and drive fancy cars. Saying to my patients, “I’m so stressed. I can’t work this hard anymore,” or, “I get up at 4 AM and I get home at 6 PM,” they probably wouldn’t care so much about that.
The message that I gave them was that I wanted to be able to do more when they came into see me
I explained how I wanted to have more time to be able to advocate for them and be able to help them get the care that they needed, or reach out to specialists directly while they were in the office to help smooth a transition or a consultation.
When Joel held his information-gathering event during his transition, he spoke about the benefits and value of longer appointments:
When I had my event, I also talked to them about the importance of preventative health, that it takes time to really go through all the preventative measures that we need to make sure our patients are getting, and that I wanted to make sure that I had more time with them to explain things, make sure they understood what my treatment plan was, and why I was embarking on that plan.
I also explained to them at this event that so many of the illnesses that they struggle with are completely preventable with the appropriate amount of time and counseling to explain how to prevent them, and when you’re on a ten or twenty minute schedule, you’re basically checking the blood pressure, sending them for lab work, listening to their heart and lungs, making sure nothing horrible is going on, hopefully getting them to take their pills, and seeing them back in three months.
With a concierge kind of practice, I explained, they would immediately notice a difference.
Specifically, that the appointments were not very hurried, that they’d have time to ask questions and have them answered fully and succinctly, that they would be able to call me whenever they needed me, that they would be able to call my cell phone. That, I think, did resonate with them.
I was careful in crafting that message to my patients so that it wouldn’t be about me, but it would be about them and how this would be beneficial to them.
I think that’s the most important thing when you’re in any kind of a dialogue with someone and you’re trying to come up with common ground. It’s unusual for that person to care about what I’m feeling. They care about what they’re feeling and what they need, and that’s why I explained it to them from that perspective.
My patients who maybe understood a little more about what is going on in the practice of medicine immediately said to me, “We’re so happy you’re doing this. You need to do this. You’re a great doc. You need to do this for yourself and we completely understand. We’re with you one hundred percent.” That was nice to hear, but I wasn’t expecting to hear that. It’s just nice when you get that back.
In Joel’s case, the care he took to explain concierge medicine to patients and his reasons for making the change went a long way towards ensuring his successful transition.
If you’re considering a conversion, but have concerns about how your patients will react, we encourage you to get in touch. If you have more questions about the transition process, you may also be interested learning how long it takes to convert to a concierge practice and how much it costs to convert to a concierge practice.
SignatureMD (signaturemd.com), with offices in Los Angeles, California and Richmond, Virginia, is one of the nation’s largest providers of initial conversion and ongoing support services to concierge medicine physicians, with an expanding network of over 160 affiliated primary care physicians and specialists across 31 states.