ConciergeTherapy Practice

Recently I spoke with two therapists about leaving the insurance reimbursement model and opening up a cash practice. Both described a pre-payment model where clients would enter into a financial agreement to pay a fixed amount rather than per visit. The set dollar amount could be paid on a monthly or for a specific number of classes or sessions.

One of the therapists had a background as a personal trainer and was comfortable charging for wellness and fitness services in pre-paid personal training packages.

In a cash-only practice once the therapists performs an initial evaluation and develops a plan of care the natural next questions are:

How long will this take?

How much will this cost?

After therapists have developed a trust relationship and have educated the client to the goals of the treatment plan it is natural to discuss the cost of care. I see nothing unethical to offer the client the option of paying for 3 to 4 sessions to achieve the outcomes that both the client and therapist want to achieve.

The other therapist was familiar with the growing popularity of physican concierge practices. He had a personal aquaintence who was very satisfied with his growing concierge medical practice. The therapist was researching into the feasibility of starting a concierge therapy practice.

That got me thinking that it might be helpful to my readers to know the difference between concierge and cash-only practices. I came across this  article that originally appeared in the NaturoPay blog  that clearly explained the difference.

Ask the average person what part of their life they are most serious about and you can bet health will be very high on the list. It should then come as no surprise to learn that there is an ever growing percentage of the population is unhappy with their current level of healthcare. Long wait times at the doctor’s office combined with increasingly shorter periods of face time with the physician have many people seeking something better.

Concierge medical practices typically have a much smaller patient base which is how doctors are able to devote so much time to each patient. Concierge medical practices may or may not accept health insurance. Some concierge practices have taken a cash-only approach to their services while others will bill the patient’s health insurance.

Cash-only medical practices differ from concierge in that the practice does not bill patient’s health insurance, instead patients pay for services upfront and submit paperwork on their own for reimbursement from their health insurance provider. Cash-only practices find that eliminating health insurance billing helps keep costs low; less staff are needed, insurance reimbursement rates do not need to be negotiated, and the practice can focus on patient care. Most cash-only medical practices do not charge patients a monthly or annual fee like a concierge practice and therefore may or may not offer shorter wait times and longer appointments.

It is now believed that 1 in 10 medical practices have adopted some form of cash-only services and that number is expected to grow. The move to cash-only is fueled in large part by the financial hit that doctors are taking in the health insurance reimbursement department. Reimbursement rates are dropping, forcing doctors to take on more patients and decrease face time with patients. This unhappiness by physicians and patients alike is why there is growing support for something different.

Doctors starting cash-only practices are working less, earning more, and are also able to provide their patients with a level of treatment that simply wasn’t possible when healthcare reimbursement figures were at the forefront of their business model.

Concierge medical practices have taken a patient-centric approach and in return, doctors also find themselves working less and enjoying the increased interactions with patients. Both models offer benefits to patients and providers that are hard to ignore.

In a concierge medical practice, the doctor and patient enter into a financial agreement where the patient pays a fixed dollar amount per month or per year to be considered a patient of that practice. In return, patients are provided a level of service that simply can’t be found at a traditional medical practice. Wait times are pretty much non-existent, appointments can be booked within a matter of days, and appointments can last as long as 30 to 60 minutes.

What are your concerns about therapists using a concierge practice model?

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Book_03As therapists we have tremendous opportunity to use our abilites, education and expertise to enhance client’s lives. What a privilege? If your are in the therapy business to serve people, then my new book On Fire: Ignite Your Passion with a Cash Therapy Practice might help you. The healthcare industry has undergone so many changes lately and many therapists are overwhelmed, overworked and confused on where to turn to for help in the battle.

On Fire takes a close look at innovative therapists who are using alternative ways to deliver high-value care to their patients. Cash therapy services have emerged as a viable alternative to accepting business as usual.

If you are intrigued by the attention that cash-based practices are attracting On Fire is a great primer to help you get up to speed on the key issues and how if might impact your practice. The book is available on Amazon. If you are interested in getting your own copy join my email list and I’ll keep you up to date on the special pre-order bonuses I’m giving away.

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