Synergy is one of the most overworked and overused words in the language. Webster’s primary definition—“The interaction of two or more agents so that their combined effect is great than the sum of their individual effects”—is what most people know. But it’s the second definition that serves as the guide post for functional medicine practitioners: “Cooperative interaction among groups…..that creates an enhanced effect.”
I’ve worked with physicians in the world of traditional medicine for a long time and have seen the impact of synergy when two or more gang together, but generally the results of this are related to cost savings and other HR related items.
Functional medicine is different. Although there are cost savings to be enjoyed when practitioners merge, the real potential is in integrative, comprehensive program that can truly provide patients with the varieties of care FM practitioners want to be able to offer to their patients.
This isn’t meant to denigrate the solo practice. There are hundreds of great solo practices out there, all providing fabulous care. Last Fall I sat in on a presentation by a group of FM leaders, all of whom operate individually, and whose model for patient care has been successful for years. Bravo!
Let’s look at what a general grouping of what most FM docs would like to be able to provide their patients:
That’s a big list. So how do you get there? Affiliations.
It’s the old “stronger in numbers” approach. A solo practice can’t generate enough patients or revenue to approach most of what’s listed above. But building a strong alliance of like-minded providers/practitioners, especially under one roof or at one location, is the only way to create a patient base large enough to support expansion, especially of services like infusion therapy, bariatrics and nutritional counseling.
My experience in FM started with one client, an MD who had a nutritionist/office manager. She merged with another FM doc. Another MD. Then nurses and NPs. It took 3 years to get to the point the practice now has all of the above. All built through affiliations.
More on how create affiliations next time. TE
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