Business

MISSOURI: Springfield, Appointments can last an hour, and patients don’t have to wait.

Written by Sarah Okeson

Apr. 30, 2013 – William Graham has been a doctor for more than 30 years, working at Mercy and elsewhere.

He’s now in solo practice in what’s called “concierge medicine,” charging an annual fee and offering more time and personal care.

“This is a one-physician operation, and patients and I have close rapport,” Graham said.

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Concierge doctors typically treat fewer patients than doctors in conventional practices. Nationally, there are about 5,500 concierge doctors, according to the American Academy of Private Physicians in Glen Allen, Va. Their numbers are concentrated in more affluent areas of states like California, Texas and Florida.

A 2013 report from Medscape on compensation for physicians puts the percentage of doctors in concierge or cash-only practices at 6 percent.

“It’s pretty much a nationwide phenomenon now in markets large and small,” said Tom Blue, the executive director of the American Academy of Private Physicians.

The annual fees for such doctors can be as high as $30,000 a year, but Graham’s yearly fee is much lower than that. His fee is $300 a year, which includes unlimited office visits at Bethesda Medical Care. He will also do consultations by email or Skype. The annual fee does not include lab work, tests or vaccinations. Patients can also be seen one time only for $100.

Graham’s office is in the Monarch Art Factory building at 600 W. College St., a brick building from the 1920s that once served as a filling station and machine shop on Route 66. The building also houses an art gallery.

Appointments can last an hour, and patients don’t have to wait.

Patients whom Graham made available for interviews said they like his approach. Sandy Miller, 62, a missionary for Assemblies of God, sees him once a month for a weight-loss program. Miller and her husband, Denny, have also been Graham’s patients at Mercy and at Jordan Valley Community Health Center.

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