While there are “practice builders” who promote the idea that there is one static practice model for all medical practices, e3BFM believes that the best direction for a practice is an educated alignment of the providers, the practice and the market. Providers have to consider their unique skills, interests and willingness to change. Providers have to evaluate the goodwill of their current practice, the potential services of a future practice and take stock of their practice resources. Providers have to explore the potential revenue streams, patient demographics, competing providers, vendors and opportunities of their target market. All of this information needs to be analyzed and then applied to a custom practice focused on optimal performance.

e3BFM offers the following three management tips for functional medicine providers to consider when structuring or managing their practice:

  1. Scope of Services. Functional medicine providers have a tendency to promote the full scope of functional medicine services, but doing so may dilute or obscure the services the provider really wants to emphasize and may give patients the impression that the provider is a jack of all trades but a master of none. Providers should consider how to focus on Wellness, Disease, Symptoms and Treatment in order to differentiate themselves in their market.
  2. Ancillary Services. Just as functional medicine providers may be too broad in focusing their services, functional medicine providers may also be tempted to incorporate many of the possible ancillary services functional medicine supports. Functional medicine practices will be confronted with a host of specialty labs, testing equipment and treatment devices that will all promise to support patient care while adding revenue. Considering the uncertainty surrounding the practice of functional medicine presented in “Practice Challenges,” providers should approach all potential ancillary services with caution.  
  3. Supplements. Functional medicine providers will want to provide patients access to the supplements necessary to implement functional medicine, but they need to be aware of the variety of methods available for offering supplements. Unless prohibited by state medical regulations, supplements can be sold in the practice. There are multiple options for online supplement sales, including a practice web site, a practice branded third party website and third party websites. Most supplement manufacturers will allow practices to private label supplements if the practice meets the required order volume. Each of these options have pros and cons that need to be evaluated.

Just as functional medicine takes a personalized approach to health, e3BFM endorses a personalized approach to practice management, These three tips are just a couple of the common issues that functional medicine providers have to address to practice functional medicine. The decisions made on these issues–and all other management issues–will have an impact on every aspect of the practice. Marketing a full list of provider services may commit the practice to acquiring equipment that is an ongoing expense. Patients may not purchase as many supplements if they are paying to access ancillary services. Because every decision matters, it is worth investing in a resource to make sound decisions.