Time to Rethink Your Practice Business Model

By Glenn Sabin

Time to Rethink Your Practice Business Model

When COVID hit, many practices and practitioners were already stuck in a routine; the pandemic simply amplified it. Businesses were abruptly turned on their heads because of their reliance on a care delivery and practice business model that was no longer viable.

What followed was a rapid transition to telemedicine to ensure continuity of care—and continuity of income—and the realization that not many practices were nimble enough or otherwise positioned for such a tectonic shift.

As a result, a number of integrative health clinics were forced to close their doors or otherwise suffered financial setbacks because:

  • patients stopped attending appointments for regular or preventative care;
  • a number of support staff were unable to fulfill all their usual tasks designed as in-person duties;
  • many practices did not have contingency plans and were unable or unwilling to pivot quickly to telemedicine;
  • some clinics did not have the wherewithal and resources to immediately design a new plan that could better guarantee steady revenue and income;
  • there were leaders of practices who decided to wait it out… but the pandemic outlasted their ability to wait;
  • clinics did not receive enough support from the Payroll Protection Program and other governmental subsidies to prop up their capital needs to stay afloat.

It was a stressful and challenging period full of unknowns. However, the pandemic allowed a significant number of practitioners to deliver care, for the first time, from the comfort of their homes, and from remote locations of their choosing. It was mind-opening and a novelty for many physicians as they were not tethered to their physical clinical space. This new normal lasted for months.

There were practitioners of integrative health, lifestyle, and functional medicine, who advantaged themselves (and their future) by using this unique period to renew and reflect. For some, the ‘times’ invited them to walk-the-talk of a healthier lifestyle—to improve immune function and resiliency for their own wellbeing, while supporting their patients to do the same.

It was an opportunity for deep introspection:  a chance to reflect on (1) how care is delivered, (2) where care is delivered, (3) what technology is deployed for seamless patient engagement and experience, and (4) how care is remunerated.

[Related content: Thinking of Converting to Concierge? Don’t Give Away Your Practice]

Those virtual doors that appeared during the pandemic are still open today. Cross the threshold and there exists the opportunity to create a higher quality life-work balance in what I call life-flow.

The COVID pandemic was one event, one pathogen—albeit a huge disruption that now and forever lurks in an endemic state. Far from being the last significant public health emergency we will face, COVID was not a once-in-a-lifetime event—it is likely a harbinger of what’s to come.

Many practices and practitioners have still not recovered. Do any of these describe you/your practice?

  • You are exhausted from dealing with insurance companies and CMS, with ever-shrinking reimbursements, regular denials, and the slow pace of getting paid.
  • You are unable to prepare and plan for your financial future because you are a direct-pay fee-for-service provider with an inconsistent revenue stream.
  • The business’ bottom line is affected by inconsistent revenues generated from a direct-pay ‘a la carte’ business model.
  • Processes are in place for consultations, testing, and monitoring over several recommended engagements, but not everyone follows through once the initial health ‘fire’ is extinguished.
  • Those who have a positive clinical response—especially those who resolve their issues quickly—hold back on investing in prevention; why spend more money?
  • You feel compromised because you see so many patients each day in order to make a decent living (via insurance and CMS), while you are acutely aware that brief encounters do not yield consistent quality patient outcomes.
  • You have a membership model, or an episodes of care model (program), but the benefits offered, the program’s structure, or your strategy to reach your target customer, does not serve to effectively acquire new patients.
  • You’re burning out from working in your practice instead of on your practice.
  • You love practicing, and love your patients (most of them), but don’t want to be tied down, full time, to your physical clinic space.
  • You’re trading your time for dollars in that your compensation is directly tied to each patient encounter you personally manage.
  • You’ve compromised your quality of life and vitality because you are married to the grind and machinations of your clinic.

Elevate Your Practice

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Rethinking Your Practice Business Model

Whether you are practicing integrative health as a solo physician or provider, practicing primary care, or are part of a specialty practiceyou need to know what your options are for that re-configured practice (care delivery) method and dynamic business model.

[Related content: Physician Specialists and Emerging Practice Business Models: Choosing Forward]

Is it Time to Rethink + Reinvent Your Practice Model?

That depends. The types of practices that are candidates for ‘conversion modeling’—to help inform if there’s a smart fit—can greatly vary, including if you:

  • have a significant patient panel or your practice is relatively new;
  • are insurance-based and accept Medicare or cash-based and opted out of CMS;
  • practice internal medicine or are a specialist;
  • are a solo-practitioner or part of a multi-physician clinic;
  • practice within an affluent and educated catchment area.

The times they are a-changin’. You owe it to yourself, your partners, and your patients to reimagine the customization of your practice business and care delivery model.

Want to discuss your current practice business and care delivery model? Get in touch to schedule a 30-min complimentary consultation.

About FON

FON is a leading integrative health and medicine business development and strategy consulting firm. FON specializes in custom solutions for growing patient volume, developing programs, and increasing product sales. Our practical business models are driven by innovative marketing, clear messaging, and customer engagement via branded storytelling.

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Author: Glenn Sabin
FON’s founder, Glenn Sabin, is a nationally recognized thought leader with a reputation for successfully positioning integrative health organizations for sustainable growth. Combining media, marketing and business development expertise with an extensive professional and personal integrative health and medicine narrative, Glenn is deeply passionate about advancing the field as the new standard of care—accessible to all.
Read Glenn’s story.


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