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    Concierge practice considerations

    Thomas J. Ferkovic
    Q: I'm hearing more and more about the concept of "concierge care," and I find it intriguing. How can I determine whether it is right for my practice?

    A: Concierge care physicians decrease the size of their practices by serving only a select number of patients, providing them with premium services and amenities in exchange for a fixed annual fee. Services may include same-day or weekend appointments, extended hours, 24-hour physician access via cell phone or pager, well-appointed offices, house calls, email consultations and spa-like amenities. Ask yourself this: Would your patients want concierge care from you? Would enough of them want to have it to make it worth your while? And do you have the vision required to convert your traditional practice to this kind of business model? Not all physicians are a good fit. Additionally, not all cities can support a concierge model, so be sure to study the market in your target area before making the decision to start this kind of practice. Survey your current practice to determine whether the volume of patients exists to support the model. Then, write a detailed business plan that includes a financial model, target demographics, detailed service offerings, a "dedication to service" statement, descriptions of patient and physician expectations, a coverage model, and a policies and procedures manual. Consult your legal advisers to assess whether the contemplated program would violate Medicare balance billing rules, state insurance laws, or provider contracts with private health insurance companies.

    Answer provided by Thomas J. Ferkovic, RPh, MS, SS&G Healthcare Services, Akron, Ohio. Send your practice management questions to

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