By: Brittney Johnson, KARK 4 News | February 18, 2013 | Would you pay a special fee to have better access to your doctor? A Little Rock doctor is joining a growing number of physicians nationwide turning their traditional offices into concierge services.
Dr. Robert Barrow says his father inspired him to practice medicine.
“He delivered babies, he did surgery, he went to emergency rooms, he did house calls,’ he says.
But decades later, Dr. Barrow says the profession has changed, and not all for the better.
‘I’m not happy with the way modern medicine treats people,” he says. Doctors don’t get paid for talking on the phone. We don’t get paid for making house calls.”
He says instead of being able to provide care in more convenient ways, patients have to visit his clinic to get treated and for him to make any money from insurance companies. He also says he saw the future of his walk-in clinic grow more grim as parts of new health reform laws started kicking in.
“Under Mr. Obama’s plan little mom and pop businesses are going away,” he says.
Dr. Barrow says he worries reduced insurance payouts could force them out of business. So he’s re-thinking his business plan and offering a concierge service. He says for $1,500 upfront each year, patients can skip the line in the waiting room and even call him on a special cell phone number 24/7.
“I want to get the good stuff from the 20th century medicine and carry it into the 21st
century,” he says of his new service.
He even plans to use Skype and iPad apps to help his patients, which is much different than the way his father took care of people. But for patients willing to pay the fee, he too will make house calls.
Dr. Barrow is taking up to a thousand concierge patients and says hundreds of people have already signed up. Patients would still need insurance to cover lab work among other things.