Healthcare is and always has been an industry that changes rapidly. 2018 has been no different, but this year the trends have focused on value, quality of care, and patient outcomes.
Many medical practices have been scrambling to try to figure out how they can deliver the best patient care experience while continuing to turn a profit. This challenge has become more and more difficult due to high overhead, tightened government regulations, and only a finite number of hours in the day with which to devote to patients.
Medical Practice Challenges
The more patients there are to see, the less time a doctor can spend with each individual. Yet just to stay afloat, the doctor has to keep increasing the number of patients they see due to low reimbursement rates on services.
These rates are set by the insurance companies and government programs like Medicare, and physicians have no control over it. As a result, they are forced to see more patients in less time just to keep up and keep their doors open.
It’s a vicious circle, and many practices are choosing to jump off the hamster wheel of insanity by taking a page out of the playbook of the retail and hospitality industries.
In other words, they are going boutique in the way they structure and offer health services. This means specialized care and boutique outpatient centers, “concierge” services for premium fees, and more individualized time and attention is given to patients.
Most medical practices today have a 15-minute standard when it comes to the amount of time a doctor may spend with a patient before moving on to the next. With boutique or concierge services, doctors are charging patients a yearly “retainer” fee to increase that time and offer more access and focused attention.
The goal of a boutique medical practice is to really give patients what they want and to create a positive, patient-centered experience, increase client/patient satisfaction, and deliver personalized, individualized patient care.
Patients on the receiving end of this boutique business model are willing to pay a pretty penny for it, on top of their current health insurance premiums. For some, this may make the boutique medical practice something only the so-called “elite” have access to, at least for now.
The boutique approach allows doctors to book fewer patients and to develop real relationships with the patients they do book, even going so far as to make home visits, to accompany patients to the ER, and to personally oversee any hospital care that may be required. This concept serves to elevate the patient experience above and beyond the current experience of the majority.
But in order to market this model effectively, medical practices will have to keep the focus off of the price tag and place it squarely on the benefits to the customer/patient: higher quality of care and personalized attention, without making patients feel as though they are being rushed through their visit.
This approach is highly relational, and ultimately it may help doctors and medical practices serve their patients more effectively, as well as communicate with them better and retain more of them over the long-term. The boutique healthcare experience goes beyond the standard patient portal to become truly valuable, both to the patient and the physician. It encompasses the patient’s digital and physical experience with their physician’s practice. This is the type of quality of care that patients are willing to pay top dollar for.