When doctors switch to the direct-pay model, they still offer the same primary care services as before, but the financial relationship with patients is different. There are patients who are taken back and are often confused by doctors who have simplified things by not taking insurance that, paradoxically, they think what they're doing is shady. Especially for patients who have insurance, the idea of paying additional money for primary care – despite the improved access and attention – is an obstacle.
At Total Access Medical, we recommend that direct-pay physicians develop a good “elevator speech” – focusing heavily on greater patient access and care quality – so they can succinctly explain the concept to patients and others on the fly. It’s short and sweet, and delivers just the right amount of information.
Here’s an idea for a quick elevator pitch:
“I don’t want to take up much of your time, but your time is something I’m hoping to have a lot more of in the future. I’m aiming to switch from a traditional healthcare practice to a Direct Care practice – which means I’ll be able to provide more personalized healthcare. I’d love to continue your care at my new practice if that’s something you’re interested in. There’s a lot more to talk about, but I’ll send you a letter soon to explain everything in more detail.”
Next, doctors should learn how to tell their patients about all the value they have to offer them - through print pieces, business cards, website, and each and every single conversation you have with patients. Follow-up with a phone call to personally explain how direct-pay and annual retainer models work and boom – you’ve effectively introduced the DPC transition idea to your patients. This is not a short process, it will take many months to educate your patients so we recommend informing them sooner rather than later.
In our experience, doctors typically end up retaining around 20% of their original panel of 3,000 patients. Physicians who transition to a direct-payment model must be prepared to lose many of their existing patients.
Referrals from existing patients have proven to be a great source of new patients because those patients are able to personally explain how the practice works, making the would-be patients more comfortable.