Thursday, April 10, 2014

To Be Or Not to Be An Entrepreneurial Physician

To be, or not to be: that is the question
Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against the sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them?

Shakespeare (1564-1616), Hamlet

Thousands of American primary care physicians are facing an agonizing choice:  remain dependent on 3rd parties (government and health plans),  or strike out on their  own to become direct pay physicians.

If physicians remain dependent, they will face more paperwork,  higher overheads,  more time spent on coding, less time spent with patients,   more risk for not complying with government regulations,  lower incomes, and a future as servants of 3rd parties  and not as servants of their patients.  

If physicians become direct pay physicians,  they will  take a financial risk, they must drop thousands of patients from their current panels,  they must reduce their overhead by paring their current staff, and they must confront  indignant  critics, who will accuse them of being greedy, of only  paying attention to their own self-interests, and of being disloyal to the governing political party and the 110 million patients (50 million Medicare and 60 million Medicaid) who depend on government  for care.

After interviewing 6 physicians who have made the switch from dependency  on 3rd parties  to independence and dependence on patients’ good will and good sense,  I have this to say.

·         Be bold: if you’re going to do it, do it.

·         Be intelligent: do it with foresight, insight,  and entrepreneurial fervor.

·         Be frank: Tell your patients why you’re doing it: to spend more time with them and be a more personal physician.

·         Be transparent:   post your prices, bundle them to cover all services performed within the office.

·         Be market-oriented:   Put your prices and your services on your website.   Cultivate and seek out local referral sources:  local businesses, community organizations, ObamaCare navigators,  and the media.   Set up a national registry of concierge and cash-only physicians.

·         Be open with your fellow physicians:  contract with them to refer them patients who need services outside your office; encourage them of offer cash-only discounted services. 

·         Recognize the power of the Net:  It’s where most people know go to get comparable, competitive  health information.

·         Realize that ObamaCare,  by unwittingly boosting premiums and deductibles to unaffordable levels, has suddenly made your services economically attractive. Compare your costs to ObamaCare plan costs.
       Set an example for other physicians to follow.  Share with them the secrets of your success or failures.

·       Emphasize simplicity,  directness, personal attention,  lack of bureaucracy,  short  waiting times, confidentiality, convenience, cost-lowering,  innovative-nature  of your services.

Tweet:    Thousands of physicians are considering switching from 3rd party dependent practices to direct-cash practices to lower overall costs and to appeal to patients.

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