Opening and maintaining a medical practice can be a complex and daunting undertaking. Details like developing a pro forma, obtaining financing, equipment, staffing and more can fill your days and haunt your sleep.
Do you open a solo practice, a group practice, or go with a hospital-owned model? And these considerations are just the tip of the iceberg. It takes time, persistence, and attention to detail.
Once your shiny new practice has been operating for a while, the focus naturally turns toward increasing numeric volume within the practice or fitting more patients in during a given day to expand revenue.
There’s another model for growing a practice, however. More and more often these days, practitioners from a variety of specialties are moving toward a more diversified service model for their practices. Instead of limiting a practice to one specialty, many physicians are expanding into areas such as aesthetic medicine and other service offerings in order to boost future revenues.
So, let’s say you’ve made the decision to diversify your practice. Now what? Let’s explore a few options to consider when you’re ready to branch out in some new directions and grow your patient base.
In-house medication dispensing
Currently the majority of states allow physicians to dispense medication directly to patients. Regulatory requirements are not generally burdensome, although each state does have its own rules.
With ever-rising drug costs remaining a huge problem for many Americans, the unfortunate result is that often, patient nonadherence to treatment recommendations is due to an inability to pay. In-house medication dispensing can often save patients money, which results in improved medication adherence. Patients also appreciate the convenience of in-house dispensing.
One option for in-house dispensing is often to provide a kiosk in the office that’s stocked with common, generic prescriptions.
Patients requiring medications can pick up their prescriptions from the turn-key kiosk upon checking out. Alternatively, you could bring in a pharmacy tech to fill prescriptions written in your office. Whatever arrangement you settle on, patients will greatly appreciate not having to make a separate stop on the way home.
Many physicians working in specialties ranging from anesthesiology to ophthalmology are choosing either to transition to aesthetic medicine as a specialty, or to add aesthetic medicine services to their existing practice in order to diversify their offerings and build their patient base.
In 2018, the aesthetic medicine market was valued at $52.5 billion globally. In the past decade, innovation in aesthetic devices has increased demand for aesthetic treatments, and technically advanced products, such as non-invasive body contouring systems, for example, is creating tremendous growth opportunities for the market in future.
Telemedicine was already an emerging trend in healthcare before the advent of COVID-19, and it’s grown exponentially since then. There are many reasons why consultations via video calls might be of value to patients, including patients who are chronically ill and cannot come in for office visits, or for those in rural or medically underserved communities. Today, telemedicine services are increasingly being offered by small physician practices.
Some chose to join a company that will market the telemedicine service and pay physicians for non-emergent consultations via a technology interface.
Different solutions require different investments in equipment or buy-ins with partner companies who will handle the technological requirements. It’s also important to familiarize yourself with the laws in your state. Some payers may pay lower rates for telemedicine services than they do for in-person services. Some states require informed consent from patients, while others do not.
Allergies are a chronic problem for as many as 50 million Americans. By offering allergy testing services and allergen immunotherapy treatment in-house, you not only provide a convenient service for current patients, who will appreciate the ability to receive this service from a trusted provider, but you also stand to bring in an entirely new patient base in need of such treatments.
Some companies will actually offer packages including technician, supplies, and antigen to operate the program in your office, leaving you to reap the benefits with little work to do yourself.
Whatever specialties or services you choose to embrace, diversifying the offerings of your practice can be highly effective at providing more value and convenience for current patients, as well as bringing in an entirely new patient base that otherwise would have gone elsewhere. The result can be a more stable, and profitable, practice. And that’s a win for everyone.