More and more people are developing chronic illnesses for which traditional allopathic medicine has very few affordable solutions. To make matters worse, people are developing chronic diseases at a much younger age than ever before. Sadly, symptom-based healthcare is not working, it’s very costly, and comes with many side effects.
Check out this message I got from a person with lung cancer who was prescribed a medication that “may” work. The costs just blow my mind.
Functional medicine is quickly emerging as the most cost and clinically effective approach to chronic disease and health optimization because it aims to find and address the root cause(s) while also empowering the patient to become a partner on the health journey.
One of our core values at The Living Proof Institute is to make functional medicine affordable and accessible to those that need it the most. Good health is priceless, but it shouldn’t cost you your life savings.
As a practice coach, I teach doctors all over the world how they can better serve their communities by providing more affordable care, maintaining their sanity, and optimizing work-life integration. This article covers some of the tools we use to be an industry leader, yet remain affordable to the masses. Here are some things that you can do:
1. Community and patient workshops
Workshops are an excellent way to educate the nurture your patients. Having group based education is a way for clinicians to leverage their time more effectively, avoid having to repeat the same thing over and over, and also a way for patients to connect with each other so they don’t feel alone on their journey.
We host 2 – 4 workshops a month on a variety of topics such as: stress, communication, gratitude, relationships, exercise etc. We have found these events to be transformational for our patients while adding tremendous value while lowering costs.
2. Trim the administrative fat
In today’s digital world, many administrative tasks can be replaced by software programs. Take online scheduling as an example. Statistically, most people are researching their health concerns online after normal business hours. If a prospective patient wants to schedule an appointment, they would typically have to wait until the next day to speak to someone. By having the ability to schedule online, patients can schedule immediately and be automatically sent all the required paperwork via email.
By not tying up your staff with scheduling, they become free to serve your patients in areas that require a more personal touch. Our office offers mobile-friendly schedule and automated reminders. This saves our clients time and helps keep their costs down.
3. Stop taking insurance
Contrary to popular belief, insurance makes every single service more expensive. Insurance comes with higher administrative costs and takes the office’s focus off patient care and shifts it to reimbursement instead.
Insurance inflates the costs of all services since there is additional costs incurred to process the claim. By having additional staffing needs and mounting accounts receivables, the office incurs significant costs that must then be transferred to the patient.Insurance is also limiting in terms of what services are covered.
For example, our programs include email access, lab interpretation videos, patient workshops etc. These types of services would not be covered through insurance carriers even though they are some of the most valuable offerings of our program. When a service is not covered, guess what? It’s simply not provided and therefore the patient experience and outcomes are compromised.
By not accepting insurance doctors can focus on the patient’s needs instead of the patient’s coverage. By paying your doctor directly, you eliminate the middleman and inflated staffing costs. Direct-pay practices tend to be a lot more transparent, affordable, and value driven.
4. Automated education
We deliver educational emails to our patients that include recipes, helpful videos, and inspiration. These emails are gentle ways to nudge patients in the right direction, keep them motivated and open their minds to new concepts that they can discuss at their follow-up appointments. By covering topics that apply to our entire patient base, these emails are an excellent way for us to leverage our time and influence. Automated education also helps reduce the number of appointments our patients require to get the results they are looking for.
5. Effective communication
Communication is a very important tool that is often overlooked. How we communicate with our patients may ultimately determine their outcomes. We assess the communication style of each patient so that we can be most effective at getting our message across to them in a clear and concise way. Some communication styles require more detail than others, some require more direct language. Effective communication results in less confusion, better compliance, and better results while helping contain costs.
6. Treat the root cause(s)
Root cause resolution is the most important clinical goal. While initially, it might seem more expensive to get the right testing and supplements, in the long run, it saves the patient a lot of money and more importantly, they get much better outcomes. Naturally treating symptoms may only provide transient benefits while the root cause continues to wreak havoc on one’s health.Since we are focused on long-term health, we want to take a long-term approach.
Getting to the root cause typically results in taking fewer supplements/medications but also incorporates lifestyle changes that don’t cost anything. So instead of treating the symptoms of poor lifestyle and diet with supplements, get to the root cause and everyone saves money. We devote an entire appointment to diet and lifestyle modifications to lower patient costs, reduce dependency on supplements and improve their long-term outcomes.
7. Empower and liberate the patient
We believe that the patient ultimately determines their outcomes. This is why our focus is to teach our patients how to take better care of themselves and their family. Our end goal is to liberate our patients from being dependent on us for health and to teach them how to tap into their own healing potential by paying closer attention to how they eat, move, and think.By consistently educating our patients and providing them with the right tools, we have been able to help hundreds of patients become the best version of themselves and continue their growth even after their program is completed. Empowered and aligned patients are the backbone of any clinic and will refer like-minded people to your clinic.
8. Leverage social media and pre-educate your clients
Social media is an excellent platform for doctors to educate their patients and prospective patients. I spend a few minutes everyday recording a short video that helps my patients, friends, and family live a better life. Since one of my core values is to keep people out of my office, social media provides me with a free platform to educate and connect with like-minded people. As my following has grown, social media has become a very cost-effective platform to serve others.
For those people looking for help, social media allows me to build a deeper connection and help people understand our core values. Generally, most people do business with people they know, like, and trust. By having hundreds of videos, posts, images, and interactions, what we stand for becomes very clear to our followers. Using social media as a platform also lowers marketing costs, but more importantly drives in people who are ready to do business with you, instead of people who are skeptical of your services and core values. Socials media based marketing lowers administrative costs, increases client conversion, and most importantly attracts the right people into your office.
The screen shot below demonstrates the power of social media and free exposure your content and message can get.
9. Only accept qualified patients
When you are trying to provide affordable care for your patients, it’s important to recognize that simply qualifying patients financially is a potentially disastrous strategy. Just because someone can swipe their credit card, doesn’t mean that they are going to be a good patient, and by no means guarantees their results.You want to qualify your patients based on a few things.
Are they aligned with your philosophy? Are they willing to take responsibility of their health? Are they willing to get the testing required? Do they have a realistic goal and timeline?When you only accept qualified patients, you will have much less emotional overhead, better clinical outcomes, more organic referrals, and further drive down your cost of doing business. This helps in keeping your care more affordable.Remember everyone needs your services, but not everyone aligns with your values. Doing business with the wrong clients will cost you more money and often results in practitioner burnout and many sleepless nights.
10. Assemble the right team
In any organization, every team member plays a crucial role. The front desk team, the support staff, and clinicians must work together with as little overlap as possible. Each person on the team should be doing work that is aligned with their core values and competencies.At The Living Proof Institute, we have been blessed with an incredible team of caring people who have chosen to work with us, not for us. Our entire team consists of people who have themselves benefited from functional medicine and decided to pursue it as a career.
Not every organization is so lucky, but there are ways to bring out the best qualities of each member.At our offices, we evaluate every team member’s communication style to find the b
est role for them. This strategy brings out the best in each team member and improves process efficiency. By assembling the right team and positioning them correctly, there will be a significant decrease in staffing needs and overlapping roles.
Your staff will be happier, resulting in a work environment. Team members who are valued will naturally work more efficiently. When your team is happier, your patients will be happier.
As you can see, there are many ways to improve both the patient experience while keeping functional medicine affordable. I realized many years ago that I could charge whatever fee I wanted, but this did not align with my core values of trying to make functional medicine the most obvious and affordable system of healthcare on the planet. My team and I have gone through incredible efforts to help as many people as possible in an affordable way, without compromising the patient experience and clinical outcomes. I hope that these tips give doctors some insight but I also hope it demonstrates to prospective patients that our goal is to truly to make the best care affordable and outcome driven.
If you are a patient looking for help, we offer a free phone consultation to better understand your needs and answer your questions, you can set up a time here: www.iamproof.com
If you are clinician looking for implement some of the above-mentioned tools, get your free practitioner video series here: www.functionalmedicineconsultant.com