By Gregg Palermo
Dr. Shari Cohen decided to switch before ‘ObamaCare’, says the move to electronic medical records gave her the final “shove”.
August 28, 2012 — Creve Coeur doctor Shari Cohen is getting ready to take the plunge into new world in her medical practice.
Early next year she’s converting to a “concierge-style”, where she’ll see fewer patients. Those she sees will pay a flat fee in exchange for increased access to see her.
The idea has gained more notoriety in recent years across the country. An article on AOL Daily Finance quoted another Creve Coeur doctor, David Katzman, who according to the article, started working under the concierge model in 2003.
We asked Dr. Cohen a few questions about the move in a recent email interview:
Patch: When did you first start to think this was the way to go, and what prompted it?
Dr. Cohen: I first started to seriously consider a change about two years ago. The demands of caring for my patients while navigating through the current health care delivery systems dictated that I take more and more time away from patient care and spend an increasing part of my day on the system itself. Electronic Medical Records was the final shove for me. It added another whole layer in interference in the doctor-patient relationship and one I was not sure I wanted to take on.
Patch: How will your new office compare to the existing one?
Dr. Cohen: I will have complete control of the management of this new office. I have given much thought to how I want my patients to be treated and how I can provide that for them. All systems will be dedicated not merely to patient care, but to patient service. Phones will be answered promptly and the caller will not be left on hold. Further, patients will be seen that day or the day following the call. Think of how you wish to be treated when you call your doctor, and that’s what my patients will be getting.
Patch: How will a “day in the life” be different under this new arrangement?
Dr. Cohen: My day will go as I dreamed it would go from the time I entered medical school. I will be spending my time with the patient, reviewing all information and devoting as much time as needed in explaining treatment. If they also are under the care of a specialist or surgeon I will be able to discuss the procedures effectively and be able to proactively catch any glitches before they occur. My patients will know that there is someone watching out for the whole of their medical treatment whether in my office or in the hospital or blending of prescriptions between two sources.
Patch: Do you know how many doctors have taken this approach in St. Louis and what have they told you to expect?
Dr. Cohen: There are from 10-15 physicians that I know in this area practicing concierge style medicine. They are all much happier with the care they provide. They also admit to less stress and I attribute that to the fact that they are in control of their practices and the ability to make decisions without third party interference. Who wouldn’t want their doctor to be able to focus on best practices in patient care? I suspect some of the reduced stress comes from high degree patient satisfaction day in and day out.
Patch: Do the changes in health care policy play any kind of role in making a move like this?
Dr. Cohen: I made my decision prior to The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obama Care). However the health care delivery system already had many flaws and while trying to sort out and respond to the new legislation, I don’t see a good solution in the near future.