Not one single Retirement Community in Idaho (Independent or Assisted Living) has regularly scheduled on-site doctor services offered to all their residents…not one! Despite the potential value of these services, not only to the residents but also to the Communities, until now there has been no focused dialogue between doctors and Community administrators to try to bridge this gap.
I’d like to explain, from the doctor’s point of view, why this service does not happen. I will then point to a solution that works for EVERYONE with the hope that we will all work together in partnership to help the elderly who need us.
The short answer? Going to Retirement Communities contradicts the doctor’s current business model. Even though many might desire to extend their practice to include these Communities, they simply can’t because doing so is 180 degrees in opposition to their business model and therefore prevents them from running a profitable medical practice.
Here’s the doctor’s perspective:
- I can either remain in my office with my entire support staff who has arranged a full afternoon schedule of patients waiting in exam rooms to see me, or
- I can spend the entire afternoon traveling to a Retirement Community where I have no support staff, have to hunt down my 1 or 2 low reimbursement Medicare patients wandering around the Community somewhere, find some place to examine them, and then somehow arrange follow-up testing and appointments.
Everyone simply accepts that if you need a doctor, you go to the doctor’s office, to a clinic, or to the hospital. The doctor does NOT come to you.
Here’s the dilemma
Healthcare is changing, and this means that doctors and Retirement Communities must adapt to new ways. In order to reduce overall healthcare costs, there is an increasing focus on delivering as much healthcare as possible OUT of institutions (e.g. hospitals) and in the Community.
Here’s how doctors must change
You must be more creative and develop a business model that encourages you to come out of your office and provide care in our Communities. There’s a HUGE need and desire for this, and it must be met. Especially for the elderly for whom scheduling appointments and arranging transportation is so difficult that they will often avoid essential medical care rather than go through all the hassle.
Here’s how Retirement Communities must change
Your market is extremely competitive, and in order to achieve a profitable census Communities must not only attract residents but maintain their loyalty by offering quality services. When available, on-site healthcare MUST be included. You must invest in this service just as you would invest in other valuable services you provide.
Here’s a solution
Doctors and Retirement Communities must come together as partners, not competitors. They must understand that neither is trying to take advantage of the other. Rather, both are working together, in partnership and to their mutual benefit, to care for the elderly.
Doctors in Boise, Idaho have ‘stepped up to the plate’ and met this challenge by developing a new business model that makes it possible to provide regularly scheduled services to all residents of a Community while maintaining a profitable medical practice.
But this new model requires that Retirement Communities must also ‘step up to the plate’ and invest in a service that their residents want and that will benefit them and make them more profitable by raising their census.
A partnership that includes Retirement Communities, their residents, and doctors, is one in which EVERYBODY WINS!