Concierge medical practices are a growing segment of the healthcare industry. In a concierge practice, patients pay a retainer fee to the practice to assure that they can see their doctor when needed, whether that is the same day or next day. Patients in concierge practices have more time with their physician, and they receive prompt call backs and much more attention — even house-calls. But for a physician considering transition to this type of practice, one of the first things to consider is downsizing the number of patients.

According to Dr. Thomas LaGrelius, a family physician who transitioned from a traditional practice to a concierge practice, “If you’re going to do a comprehensive wellness exam on everyone once a year, it takes an hour or two.” He continues, “That limits you to a membership base of about 600 patients — maybe 800 if they’re younger, healthier people.” Some physicians balk at the idea of downsizing their patient panels, but for Dr. LaGrelius, doing so gave him more time to focus on each patient. But before going concierge, Dr. LaGrelius met with key thought leaders and consultants to help make the transition. The transition to a concierge practice can be most challenging for physicians who don’t have a loyal patient-base.

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