Study: Membership model protecting independent practices from closure crisis

The results of a survey conducted in late 2020 show membership-based independent practices are avoiding the ongoing closure crisis that’s affecting fee for service independent practices across the country.

According to a recent article in Medical Economics, the survey collected data from over 3,500 independent practices and revealed noteworthy insights into the drivers of independent practice resilience over the last year.


“Membership-based practices within the cohort had a 0% closure rate, and 24% reported higher revenues in 2020 than any prior year. 40% of membership practices reported that their revenue had not been impacted by the pandemic,” writes Laurie Hofmann, MPH, the author of the article.

OvationLab, the group that conducted the survey, says that the membership (or concierge) model establishes the nature of the larger relationship between the practice and the patient.

“Fee-for-service is transactional. Membership implies a continuous, active relationship,” says Tom Blue, co-founder of OvationLab. “It turns out that a pandemic is a terrible time to sever ties with your doctor, and patients in membership practices gave their doctors time to react and adapt to the crisis. Patients in the fee for service model, to their own detriment in many cases, simply stopped going to the doctor.”

The results of the study closely match the experiences of Specialdocs physician clients prior to and during the pandemic. On March 9, 2021, Specialdocs conducted a webinar featuring two concierge physicians, Brian Bilchik, MD, and Zev Cohen, MD, who transitioned their practices to the membership medicine model during the pandemic.

The doctors discussed the current closure crisis and how the concierge model allowed them to gain control over their practice and not only survive but thrive.

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