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Concierge medicine--a practice that focuses more on custom treatment options, increased patient-doctor time, and a closer patient-doctor relationship--is quickly expanding in the United

States, attracting more physicians and patients, along with a growing number of competing practice transition companies. Although it is difficult to gather accurate statistics, data obtained from the American Academy of Private Physicians in 2012 estimated that more than 1.5 million Americans and more than 4,500 internists and family medicine practitioners were participating in some model of concierge or personalized care medicine. The recent lawsuit filed against MDVIP (the largest concierge medicine membership program) by rival SignatureMD alleges unfair anti-competitive practices. This litigation illuminates just how significant this growing trend has become in the healthcare marketplace.

"We believe all physicians should have options when choosing a consulting company to assist them. This is a critical decision, one that can transform not just their medical practices, but their lives," explains Roberta Greenspan, president of Specialdocs Consultants, a national consulting firm assisting physicians in their transition to concierge medicine.

Specialdocs advises physicians to consider the following important questions as they evaluate the expanding list of choices in concierge consulting firms:

>>Autonomous vs. corporate?
Do you want to maintain an entrepreneurial practice that reflects your brand to your patients in the community you serve, or are you comfortable being part of a corporate brand that includes multiple physician practices? Determine upfront whether your practice can fit into a template business model; if not, you may want to consider a firm that offers a more personalized practice design approach.

>>Am I comfortable with the terms and restrictions in my concierge contract?
It's very important to understand the contract terms, length, fees, and restrictions, as they vary greatly among concierge medicine practice consulting firms. Some physicians prefer the security of a long-term (but more restrictive) contract, while others prefer a less restrictive agreement (like that of Specialdocs, which offers the option to re-sign after an initial shorter term consulting engagement, or the freedom to leave with no exit restrictions).

>>Short term support or ongoing partnership?
Should you choose a concierge medicine consulting firm that provides a brief "how to" for initial enrollment, or will you thrive with a more strategic advisory partnership that ensures patient retention and practice growth? The patient renewal rate for Specialdocs' physician practices is 94 to 97 percent.

>>Does the concierge consulting firm's experience, reputation, and personality put me in a comfort zone?
Simply put, examine several options, have ongoing dialogue, meet in person, and look deeply into each concierge firm's long-term reputation. Get feedback from physicians both in and out of contract with their consulting firm. Ensure they were truly pleased with their decision and experience.

Source: Specialdocs, specialdocs.com

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