What Is Concierge Physical Therapy & Should You Offer It?

Concierge physical therapy has recently grown in popularity. Read the top pros and cons of a concierge business model to decide if you should offer it.

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Should Your PT Practice Offer Concierge Physical Therapy? Definition, Pros & Cons

In today’s era of busy and booked healthcare, patients often fight tooth and nail to land an appointment with their desired healthcare provider at a reasonable time and date. This growing trend has led to an increased interest in concierge medicine. This practice model enables providers to offer better targeted and more convenient care to patients of all types.

More physical therapists have begun to pivot away from traditional insurance-based practices to on-demand, cash-based operations now that concierge medicine has spiked in popularity. Keep reading to learn more about concierge physical therapy and the pros and cons associated with implementing it in your practice.

What is Concierge Physical Therapy?

In the healthcare industry, concierge medicine refers to a cash-based healthcare model that offers patients customized care delivery and payment methods. Typical concierge models follow a subscription-based pricing method that requires patients to pay monthly or annual dues upfront to receive access to care services.

Concierge physical therapy is a cash-based model that involves monthly or annual dues, though some therapists may offer one-time payments for various treatment packages. For example, a concierge PT may offer a 10-visit package at an up-front price to target functional outcome measures of a specific injury, like a torn rotator cuff.

With the U.S. concierge medicine market currently holding a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.27%, there’s no doubt that concierge physical therapists are here to stay. However, the verdict is still out on whether the benefits of concierge physical therapy outnumber the potential disadvantages. Take a look at how the benefits and drawbacks of concierge PT compare.

Provider Advantages to Running a Concierge PT Clinic

1. Greater Financial Stability

Unlike traditional physical therapy setups, concierge physical therapists will typically not accept insurance coverage. Operating on a cash-based concierge PT model eliminates the need to rely on insurance companies to reimburse practices at their preferred rate and in a timely manner. Upfront cash-based payments from membership fees or treatment packages allow for financial stability and potentially higher profits than insurance-based reimbursements.

2. Scheduling Flexibility

With concierge physical therapy, providers can choose their practice hours to accommodate and target specific patient populations. For example, a concierge practice that targets busy professionals and adolescents may offer more evening slots, whereas those who treat more geriatric patients can opt for more frequent morning appointments. A concierge PT practice can offer extended appointment slots and more targeted care compared to the standard 30-minute visit.

3. Less Staff Burnout

While it may seem like scheduling flexibility is solely for the patient, this versatility benefits the provider as well. Scheduling constraints, reimbursement delays, Medicare confusion, and other traditional insurance-based practice obstacles can be eliminated with the concierge physical therapy model, overall reducing employee burnout. Opportunities to minimize therapist stress and burnout are especially important as therapist shortages remain at an all-time high.

4. Perceived as PCPs of the PT Industry

As a concierge physical therapist, you become perceived as a primary care provider (PCP) in the PT industry. Patients will no longer have to go through a primary care physician to receive a referral to your practice. Instead, a concierge physical therapist becomes the first point of contact for each patient— enabling the concierge PT to receive all of the business, not just what remains after a patient visits with their PCP.

Patient Advantages of Concierge Physical Therapy

1. Personalized Care

One of the critical factors of the increased interest in concierge physical therapy is the level of personalized care patients can receive. On top of no longer facing insurance restrictions, concierge physical therapy provides patients with increased appointment availability, extended treatment sessions, and one-on-one patient care and communication inside and outside the practice.

2. Transparent Cost

Rather than playing the insurance coverage guessing game associated with traditional PT practices, concierge physical therapy provides full cost transparency throughout the entire patient relationship via established monthly, yearly, or package pricing. Concierge PT is also great for patients with high-deductible or minimal PT coverage insurance plans, as concierge costs are often cheaper than all-in health insurance costs.

3. Strong Patient Rapport

Because a concierge PT can build customized, one-on-one relationships with patients, a client will develop a higher level of trust in the practice. Being able to approach and communicate any physical therapy concern with a concierge PT increases overall patient satisfaction and practice rapport. Increased rapport can also boost patient engagement, resulting in long-lasting (and high-paying) client relationships.

Potential Disadvantages of Concierge PT Business Models

1. More Legal Liability for the PT Business

Concierge physical therapy may incur higher legal liability and complications. From state to state, there may be legal limitations on which services physical therapists can offer patients without receiving previous authorization from their physician. Depending on the practicing state, a concierge PT may require patients to provide prior authorization before beginning treatment.

2. Increased Patient Dependence

With the idea of unlimited PT communication and visits, patients may lose focus on their episode of care and view it as a source of endless treatment instead — creating an overdependent relationship with the therapist. Because of this, it’s important for concierge physical therapists to push away any “unlimited” talk and instead highlight the perks that benefit both sides, including scheduling, cost transparency, and one-on-one communication.

3. Stressful Merge to Concierge Services

After years of running a traditional PT practice and building a client base, merging into a concierge-based model can be stressful. From breaking the news to existing patients to avoiding legal complications, the concierge merge process can produce quite a few initial speed bumps. PT practices may seek guidance from an existing concierge practice to help reduce these concerns.

4. Difficulty Securing Patient Payment

When lifting a concierge physical therapy practice off the ground, it can be challenging to persuade both new and old patients to dish out your fees. Those possessing insurance coverage may not see the value in paying out-of-pocket (OOP) concierge fees. On the other hand, there may be times when the required PT services extend beyond concierge agreement terms and create additional OOP costs. Either scenario can create barriers to securing patient payment.

The Bottom Line: The Concierge Physical Therapy Model Is Here To Stay

Whether you plan to continue operating a multi-location group or a small boutique physical therapy practice, the option to adopt the concierge physical therapy model is here to stay. No matter where your endeavors take you, PT practices need a practice management solution that can track productivity, manage patient sources, and stay on type of compliance each step of the way.

To learn more about how MWTherapy’s PT practice management solutions can advance your business, contact us today to schedule a demo.

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