January 28, 2013 —
Concierge Medicine is a little-known concept that just may be the answer to ObamaCare, which has many Americans in dire straits when it comes to getting quality healthcare when they need it most. Long seen as a preserve of the rich, celebrities and a privileged few, Concierge Medicine has taken hold, and is becoming a popular option for many individuals. In this post, we’ll look at what this relatively new approach to patient care means, and what it can do for you as a physician and healthcare provider.
Concierge Medicine – The Basics
Concierge Medicine, by definition, is a program in which patients pay a certain amount of money each year for specialized attention given to them by their primary care physician. This type of practice has several names, some of which include boutique medicine, platinum practice or executive health programs. It is estimated that 5,000 private practitioners are now offering Concierge Medicine services to their patients. This may be due to the fact that the current healthcare system, with its stringent and sometimes unreasonable rules, is doing nothing to help physicians who run small practices. At the same time, the insurance companies are effectively running these same physicians out of business. Concierge Medicine is one of the ways that these doctors are able to remain relevant, while at the same time getting value for the services that they provide to their patients.
For a better understanding of Concierge Medicine, let’s take a look at this analogy – wouldn’t it be better to buy quality clothing made by professionals than buying cheaply made clothes, due to the fact that the former would provide you with durability, quality and comfort? Also, spending money on such a purchase will make the buyer confident in the knowledge that they are getting exactly what they paid for. The emphasis here is on quality and an overall ‘wow’ experience.
Concierge Medicine versus Direct Primary Care
Concierge care is different from ObamaCare in a few ways. For example, the fee that a patient pays usually covers all the doctor’s requirements, without having to rely on insurance and other miscellaneous deductible fees. It is often compared to Direct Primary Care, otherwise known as DPC. In essence, these two terms are used interchangeably, for a variety of reasons:
Both Concierge Medicine and DPC bypass the cumbersome insurance paperwork, and put both parties in contact with each other for a more personalized financial relationship. This is flexible for both the patient and physician, and ultimately translates to increased profits and a convenient model of healthcare whenever the patient needs it. This is particularly helpful if the patient makes many doctor visits due to a prevailing condition that needs regular care.
Concierge Medicine and Direct Primary Care both focus on providing higher quality care to patients, without limiting the number of patients and doing away with overhead costs, some of which include limited staffing and overhead transaction costs.
The Reasons Behind the Growth of Concierge Medicine
In a 2004 survey, it was discovered that three quarters of doctors aged 50-65 found medicine to be increasingly unsatisfying. Concierge Medicine is gaining popularity by physicians all over the country as it allows them to focus on a small group of reliable patients, while at the same time offering them high quality care at a price that makes the profession economically viable.
Concierge Medicine – The Advantages
The American Academy of Private Physicians, also known as AAPP is credited as one of the organizations that support physicians who are looking into going into Concierge Medicine. Here are some of the things that make this type of medical care an attractive option for healthcare workers and patients alike:
- Same-day doctor care for patients who need it most
- 24-hour phone or pager access to a physician
- More time spent with each patient, thus minimizing rushed appointments that may not offer the patient the care they need and deserve
- House care and out-of-office care
- When needed, accompanying patients to specialized medical visits to ensure that they receive the best quality of treatment
- Free check-ups
- Email and telephone consultations
- Free on-the-spot physicals
- Wellness care programs, and preventative care advice and consultations, normally not provided in an average physician setting
Concierge Medicine – The Statistics
The average patient load for physicians in the current healthcare system is estimated at 2,500 patients. When a physician takes up concierge care, this number is drastically reduced to manageable levels, which normally stands at 500 patients or less. This reduces the chances of physician burnout, and increases their satisfaction in knowing that they are providing the best level of care and personalized attention to each patient.
A Few Things to Note
If you are a physician thinking of taking up concierge care, please remember to cover yourself legally by making each patient sign an Agreement Not to Sue, which essentially uses binding arbitration to take care of issues that may arise from providing this kind of care. This also leaves out difficult customers who may pose a problem later on. You will thus be able to work more freely, knowing that you are covered by the law in the event of any unforeseen circumstance.
Inform Your Patients Beforehand
It is important for every physician thinking of converting to the Concierge Medicine model of healthcare to inform their patients in advance, so that none of them is left without a physician. This gives them time to shop around for a doctor that can tend to their needs in a timely manner. You can also give out referrals, so that by the time you make the switch, all your patients will have access to care when they need it, should they choose not to opt for concierge services. At the same time, you should come to an agreement with your patients on the terms of payment, which is offered at the time when the contract is executed. This includes whether the payment will be a yearly lump sum, or monthly payments. Be sure to lay out the pertinent responsibilities to the prospective patients, and what kind of care they should expect with this kind of practice.
Concierge Medicine offers a personalized, high quality and value-for-money service for patients who need it, ensuring that the physician’s needs are also met, and giving the medical profession a much-needed facelift in the eyes of physicians and patients alike.