Why a Consultant for an Integrative or Functional Medicine Practice?

Let’s face it. One of the most important questions you must answer regarding a practice in Integrative or Functional medicine is this: What’s your business model? Fee for service, concierge, insurance based, hybrid of cash and insurance? With all the options, it can be difficult to decide. It defines everything regarding your practice from your target population, your marketing and even what services you can provide. Choose poorly and you will struggle in every aspect of your day to day business, choose wisely and both you and the patients will thrive. But beyond that, there are other business questions that can also wreak havoc with your sleep. Marketing, which services to offer, billing, compliance issues, building community or health system relationships, all of these can take precious time and dollars to figure out and keep you tied up and away from patient care or have to be addressed after hours which impacts family and self-care.

As Medical Director and founder of a large health system based Integrative practice, I found myself struggling with these continued business questions even long after we had become an established practice. Even though we had tremendous resources with our billing and coding departments and a supportive administration, we still found that there were many questions that needed answering and key conversations that needed an outside, knowledgeable perspective. It was at this point that I remembered Nick Jacobs.

I first encountered Nick several years ago while attending the Business of Integrative Medicine Module at an AIHM conference in San Diego. I was impressed with his background as a former hospital administrator and how he had used his creativity from his days as a musician to create a healing environment within his facility. He gave vivid descriptions of the ups and downs of the business journey and examples of key areas and concepts to consider when developing an Integrative facility. His work with many of the nationally known Integrative doctors and health systems is testimony to Nick’s position as a true trailblazer with the industry. When it came time to consider a consultant for our practice questions, Nick was the first person who came to mind.

Nick and the SunStone team came to our practice with open eyes and minds and were instrumental in helping to define key partnerships and critical conversations within our health system that would take our practice to the next level. Through the process, we were able to confirm our business structure, articulate our needs and build a plan that took us from an individual practice to one partnered with multiple other business lines within the system with increased efficiency and resources. Because of Nick’s knowledge, experience and articulate nature, our health system was able to better understand the national trends in integrative and functional medicine and to visualize what our next steps should be.

It’s only been a year since our time with SunStone, but it’s been a busy one. We’ve changed locations, added another provider, expanded our services and continue to grow, nearly doubling our new patient visits. I am very grateful for the insights gained from working with Nick Jacobs and his team. For those who ask whether it was worth the time and dollars, I would say, “Absolutely!”

-Angela LaSalle, MD, ABoIM | Parkview Physician’s Group Integrative Medicine