How Can I Ease the Transition for My Patients When I Retire?

posted by Dan Zimmerman in Risk Management on January 04, 2017

At NCMIC, we talk to many doctors when they call our Claims Advice Hotline about a troubling situation or when they need advice about a potential malpractice claim or board complaint. We talk them through the many clinical, relationship and legal issues involved, as well as guide them toward taking the best approach for their individual situations.

Here is an example of a common question and how our claims experts might respond:

Q: After practicing in the same location for more than 20 years, I’m ready to announce my retirement from chiropractic and the sale of my practice. Although I’m excited about this new phase in my life, I’m concerned about my patients and I want to help ease their transition to the care of the doctor who will be taking over my practice. How much advance notice should I give them that I’m retiring, and how can I go about helping them transition easily to the care of the new doctor?

A: While your patients will no doubt be happy for you, you’ve become an important part of their lives and you'll be missed. Give your patients as much time as you possibly can to transition to the new doctor or to another provider, especially given the length of your relationship with some of your patients. Failing to provide patients with adequate notification can leave them with negative feelings; with that in mind, consider a four-to-six-month window. The following letter will give you some ideas; consider customizing it to send to your patients.

Sample letter below from The Chiropractic Form and Sample Letter Book. For illustrative use only.

 

Dear ________:

Because of my retirement, I have sold my practice and office at 18 Water Street. Dr. Debra Jones, the new owner, will begin seeing patients on October 1. To help ensure a smooth transition and to introduce Dr. Jones to my many valued patients and friends, I will be staying on with her until January 1. I will not be in the office after that date.

Two weeks from today, I will begin discussing patient files with Dr. Jones. This time-consuming task is for your benefit; I want Dr. Jones to be familiar with your records so she will be fully prepared to treat you from her first day in the office. I trust you will notify me if this is not satisfactory. I want to assure you that I have the utmost confidence in Dr. Jones, and I hope you will consider allowing her to become your new doctor.

If you decide to be treated elsewhere, I will be happy to provide your new doctor with copies of the necessary records from your file. If that is your preference, please contact my office manager, Ms. Kemp, at (555) 123-4567 so she can arrange proper authorization and transfer.

I regret that I will not be able to continue to serve you. My years here have been filled with many rewarding experiences and memorable patients. Please accept my every good wish for your health and happiness.

Sincerely,

 

This article appeared in NCMIC’s Examiner magazine, a publication for NCMIC policyholders with compelling case studies and practical tips for avoiding a malpractice allegation. View the current issue of Examiner for more case studies and articles.

About The Author
Dan Zimmerman

Dan Zimmerman, RPLU, CIC
Senior Professional Relations Representative - NCMIC Insurance Company

Dan Zimmerman joined NCMIC in 2010 following 12 years in the property/casualty insurance field. That experience provided opportunities for him to excel in customer service skills as both an adjuster and a marketing representative. As a member of the corporate relations team, Dan travels the country extensively representing NCMIC at various college industry events. He also participates in Starting into Practice workshops and risk management seminars that are presented at the colleges. And back in the day, Dan earned All-American honors as a sprinter on 4 x 100 and 4 x 400 relay teams. Obviously, that qualifies him as a team player.

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More resources on closing or transferring a practice:
 

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