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Learn from an insider how a subscription model improved patient care

Nov 6, 2022 | By PYMNTS.com

Sunil Vasisht, chief operating officer at Meridian Springs Primary Care, tells PYMNTS how the practice was able to leverage the subscription business model for healthcare.

Quality healthcare on demand, accessed with the same ease as a favorite movie or TV series, is not merely a fantasy, according toSunil Vasisht, chief operating officer at Meridian Springs Primary Care in Tomball, Texas. Application of the subscription service model to healthcare removes obstacles to care and adds convenience, he contends.

“The idea is that it is a flat fee,” said Vasisht. “Just like you binge-watch movies on Netflix, visits are unlimited. There is no visit fee. You don’t have to think twice about visiting your doctor, especially for primary care. And what that does is incentivize people to get their preventive care, which is the most important.”

How the subscription-based model leads to improved patient care 

Meridian Springs’ business model is different from that of most U.S. healthcare organizations, Vasisht explained. By charging all members a flat monthly fee rather than billing them or their insurers on a per-service basis, the practice receives revenue regardless of whether patients visit or not. As a result, it can emphasize quality of care over patient volume, with the practice’s doctor spending 30 minutes to one hour with each patient.

“When you remove [the standard U.S. care model] and put [healthcare] into a subscription, you actually free up the medicine part of it to do what [physicians] do best,” he said. “Doctors in this country have fantastic training, but the business model has made them captive to a very faulty system. Changing the business model to a subscription model frees the doctors to do what is necessary.” 

Additionally, this model enables the practice to function as a one-stop shop. While patients are referred to external specialists and hospitals as needed, the practice endeavors to provide as much care on-premises as possible, including elective and cosmetic procedures. This allows patients to save time and money by doing business with a provider they already trust. 

“A great thing about what we do is [that] you’re already a member, which doesn’t just mean that you’re getting primary care. You are also getting access to all the services we offer.”

Creating active patient engagement 

Removing payment friction is among the greatest advantages of the subscription business model, and this alone is an important way to reduce churn. Meridian Springs Primary Care automates its billing, ensuring that patients’ payments are processed in a completely seamless manner. The administrative team also receives alerts when cards on file are about to expire so that they can reach out to members and ensure these are updated ahead of time. 

The practice views onboarding and setting proper expectations as another tool to keep churn low, making sure that patients understand the difference between the subscription or value-based care model and the typical U.S. fee-for-service model. Finally, even when patients do not need to visit frequently, the practice considers it important to continue to engage them, letting them know that the doctor is just a click, text or phone call away for any concern, no matter how small. 

“Every month you have to provide [members] some value. You know, it might be a newsletter with some ideas about health or social media. The more engaged your members are, the less the churn,” Vasisht concluded.

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