Travel medicine brings cash to private practice

It's a tough world out there for private practice physicians. I know this because I am one of them. In my own three-partner group, here are some of the realities we face:

  • Declining reimbursements
  • Rising expenses
  • Competition from surrounding 'big box' medical institutions
  • Loss of referral base
  • Decay of professional satisfaction

We can choose to accept the status quo, or we can change it. I strongly recommend the latter. The challenges of private practice medicine listed previously will not resolve spontaneously. There is no government agency or healthcare industry who will rescue us. We have to do it ourselves, and we can.

An easy and effective way to open a revenue stream into your practice is travel medicine--that is, providing patients with the medical information and immunizations they need before visiting foreign countries. Travel physicians may also prescribe medications against malaria, traveler's diarrhea and other illnesses.

It does not take long for a physician to get up to speed in this new area of medicine. Remember, you already have all of the clinical skills, including giving vaccinations, and physicians are quick studies by nature.

Even if you don't think many of your patients do much world traveling, believe me, your traveling clientèle is out there. Over 10 million Americans will go overseas this year. Millions of them are not even aware that they need travel vaccinations. They are in your neighborhood. They are businessmen, students studying abroad, vacationers and folks visiting friends and relatives in foreign countries.

Many of these individuals are traveling at risk without recommended vaccinations. Others are referred to established 'travel clinics,' often staffed by infectious disease specialists. My message is to make your primary care office the travel clinic in your neighborhood. You will be surprised how many of your own patients will be traveling abroad, or know someone who will be.

Travel medicine delivers cash to medical practices, as patients pay directly for the treatment without going through an insurance company. Travel vaccinations are expensive, so the reimbursement received for them and the office consultation would likely be the highest reimbursed service in your practice. Just a few travelers per week will change the economics of the practice.

Physicians who want to pursue this opportunity do not have to do it alone. Physicians across the country have joined Travel Clinics of America (TCA), an organization run by physicians that helps other physicians set up successful travel medicine practices in their offices. After two years, TCA has a proven record of success.

Physician offices that join TCA remain completely independent while benefiting from the organization's expertise in quickly establishing a vibrant travel medicine practice within an existing medical practice. Physician members do not bill through insurance companies, so this is a cash business. For a modest startup cost, TCA will train you and your staff with personalized instruction and help you promote your new services. In a matter of weeks, you will be seeing travelers with confidence.

Interested? Please contact us so we can share more about this opportunity with you. Yes, I am one of the TCA founders, but I am also a full-time practicing physician. The challenges we physicians face are formidable. TCA is a bridge leading to a more prosperous and stable practice. To learn more, contact us at 866-855-5622 or e-mail [email protected].

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