|The Emerging Market of Concierge Therapy|
Over the last several years, the world of primary care medicine has seen an increase in the provision of concierge medical services. Many physicians are developing thriving practices based on this patient-centered, cash-pay business model, and they are learning that this highly proactive and individualized approach can actually be not only cost-effective for the patient, but it can also result in a bigger bottom line for the provider.
What does this mean for psychotherapists and the private practice business model?
“Concierge therapy” can be defined as a “total-care” service system implementing an anytime, anywhere practice model whereby clients have the security in knowing that their mental health provider will be available whenever the need arises. This "total-care" service offers flexible, immediate, and individualized treatment through various service models and retainer-style or membership -based fee programs. The concierge private-pay structure allows providers to define a treatment arrangement that is more convenient and comprehensive for the client than regular private pay structures, and it allows the provision of services without the restrictions of insurance regulations, insurance adjusters, or their third party adjusting agencies. The benefit of this model is that it allows therapists to focus on the client’s treatment needs, rather than on watching the session clock and filling out insurance forms. Simply put, the provider’s attention is placed solely on the client.
Here are some examples of the services which may be offered in concierge therapy:
It is a myth that concierge therapy is obtainable only by the wealthy. Many therapists are already declining insurance and charging fees within the $100 - $200 per hour range, so a treatment plan providing for 4 sessions per month would come out to roughly $400 - $800 per month. Clients desiring the "total-care" service afforded by the concierge system may be willing to pay a couple of hundred dollars more to enjoy the added benefits of a concierge membership. For therapists who accept insurance, it is possible to create a model that works in conjunction with insurance, especially when there are deductibles that must be met before the insurance payer begins to reimburse, and limitations to the number of visits a client may have under the insurance policy. Monthly memberships of $1000 or more are usually inclusive of a certain number of sessions per month. For example, a monthly membership package of $1500 can include up to 8 hours of concierge services per month, which results in costs of $187.50 per session. If your current fee-for-service rate is $150 for a 50-minute session, clients may be willing to pay the extra $37.50 for the "anytime, anywhere" service with a grace period. In contrast, membership or retainer plans can range from a $1000 to $4000 annually, with individual session fees paid on a fee-for-service basis.Transitioning from a traditional practice model to a concierge model can be a frightening thought. No one wants to lose their clients by implementing a change in fee structures, nor is it necessary. One solution may be to consider integrating a hybrid practice model. This model allows the provider to continue offering services to clients through insurance reimbursement and fee-for-service methods, then adding the concierge service for clients who see the value in the "total-care" option. You may be surprised to see just how many clients would be interested in a treatment model of slightly increased cost that allows greater access to their therapist.
Read the complete issue: The Argonaut Navigator, July 2015 Issue
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