Physicians are generally known for earning higher than average incomes. However, with the recent changes in healthcare, they have a growing reason to be concerned about money just like the rest of us. Average physician salaries range from $176,000 for family medicine practitioners, to $413,000 for orthopedic surgeons, according to WebMD's 2014 Physician Compensation report. But those figures don't take into account that many doctors entering their practices have as much as $200,000 in outstanding loans or, that payment rates are dropping from both CMS and private insurers.
In an attempt to alleviate these financial pressures, many doctors are seeking supplemental revenue streams in creative ways you might not expect. Here are a few of the many ways that doctors are doing just that:
Retail sales for skincare or spa related items: You may be used to seeing sunscreen and other creams at your dermatologist's office, but what about at your OB/GYN clinic? Some OBs carry not only breastfeeding supplies, but lubricants, vitamins, and skin care products in addition to offering services like facials and peels.
Botox parties: Botox parties have impressively transformed injections from private, personal procedures to group social events...with wine. Strange, right? Try brilliant. Considering the steep price point, doctors can, in a one room sweep, easily make extra income off a cheery group of wine drinking pals. Not bad for a happy hour's work.
Concierge fees: To date, 3% of doctors offer a concierge practice and the rate and popularity of such services is growing steadily, especially in affluent urban areas. In return for a monthly or yearly fee, patients may receive additional services including longer visits, quicker access to care, and visits with physicians (versus nurse practitioners).
Cash-only practices: Cash-only practices are becoming more popular. In fact, 6% of practices exclusively accept cash so they don't have to deal with complications brought on by the insurance process. Without the insurance arm in the equation, patients also have the ability to negotiate lower fees, which is pretty revolutionary in itself. Since most physicians still do rely on payers though, verifying eligibility or benefits is a key component of the care equation. This up front knowledge is made easy and possible by PokitDok's eligibility API or price transparency solution. Solutions like these make it easy for providers to know what patients are covered for, where they are in their deductible, etc before they treat patients. Then, based on that information, doctors can inform patients how much services cost, offer cash prices, or even have them schedule and "self-pay" up front.
Side jobs: After their already long hours, willing docs can pick up extra shifts on nights and weekends or even on their practice's days off. They might also take on side jobs at urgent care clinics, nursing homes, skilled nursing or hospice facilities.
Retail clinics: Retail clinics, like the ones you see at drug stores, are usually staffed by physician assistants and nurse practitioners. However, these health care extensions are legally required to have physician supervision, even though the doc doesn't physically need to be on site at the time.
Clinical trials: Whether the doctor's site participates in clinical trials or simply recruits patients for them, with expert knowledge, there's money to be made on both sides.
Telemedicine: As this space continues to rapidly expand, companies and clinics alike are hiring full and part-time physicians to handle telemedicine calls. According to MDLive, 85% of certain doctors visits can be solved via telemedicine. These 'visits' can often be handled from a home office or anywhere with a secure internet connection.
Writing: The advent of blogs, online publications and the need for accurate, forward thinking medical content has increased doctors' opportunities to use their expertise for content creation. They may be paid for their written content or use this experience to establish themselves as thought leaders in the industry, thereby leading to more, potentially lucrative opportunities.
Become a medical examiner or claims reviewer: Doctors who get qualified by insurance companies can conduct one-off occupational health and other patient evaluations for insurance companies. The work may be monotonous, but worth it for the right price.
Speaking & teaching opportunities: Pharmaceutical and CME companies hire physicians to present educational content to other physicians at conferences and in seminar settings. Similar to content creation, this has the potential for doctors to earn respect and awareness as well as position themselves as experts in their specialties.
Renting office space: Some ways to add income don't involve medical care at all. Doctors who happen to have extra office space can rent it out to other providers, including ones that can have a beneficial referral relationship, like physical therapy or psychiatry. For example, our fine group of engineers at PokitDok's Charleston location rent office space from a former doctor's office complex.
Just like the rest of us, doctors will continue to deal with the ever-changing economy in creative, ingenious ways. The next time you have to wait 2 months before seeing your doctor, or get shuffled through a rushed 10 minute exam, perhaps you'll maintain compassion and composure with the knowledge that the system is broken for them as well and they're just doing their best to stay profitable. Until a better consumer healthcare experience takes hold and the technological tools to streamline practices becoming more widely adopted, we'll give them a break.
Tags: API, Dev, Enterprise, Healthcare consumerism, Providers