EDUCATION: The Benefits of Concierge Medicine.

Benefits of Concierge Medicine.
Written and edited by Michael Tetreault, © 2013 Concierge Medicine Today, All Rights Reserved.

concierge medicine bookAs a Patient of a concierge / retainer based physician, you can expect to receive:

  • Virtually unlimited access and more time with your doctor…Each environment allows your physician to manage and monitor more carefully your health and wellness activities.
  • No waiting…concierge medicine environments offer no wait, same-day appointments.
  • Better Dialogue With Your Doctor…each question you have and the best course of treatment can be discussed a length to ensure you ask and receive answers to all of your questions or concerns.
  • Freedom…from worry about whether or not you can access your physician in a timely manner.
  • Focus…on preventive medicine and virtually unlimited office visits.
  • Make Healthier Choices…and adapt healthier behavior patterns by having your physician available to you anytime day or night.
  • Be More Organized and Efficient…Whether you’re on vacation or in another country, your physician is just a phone call away.

It’s unfortunate that somewhere between the late 1950’s and the year 2010, the connection between the doctor and his or her patient was lost. Long gone are the days where our doctor carries a medical bag and visits my house. When medicine became regulated by the government and insurance companies that relationship was quickly eroded and eventually extinguished from our home and our memory. It’s not to say that some form of administration was needed back then, but now administrative tasks and regulation take up most of the time of our doctors that they must look at a chart or a file to know our names.

In our conversations and surveys with numerous boutique, retainer and direct primary care physicians from across the country, these doctor’s offices formerly needed to complete eight pages of paper work for one patient to receive a $4 prescription. In this new business model of primary care and family medicine popping up across the U.S., hundreds of doctors have learned that there is a better way.

The Concierge Medicine Research Collective, an independent health care research and data depository of the concierge and direct primary care industry’s trade publication, Concierge Medicine Today based in Atlanta, GA released a 3-year summary of its analysis on the popularity and growth of the concierge medicine and direct primary care marketplace. They asked physicians from across the U.S. from December 2009 to December 2012 questions pertaining to their concierge medicine and direct primary care practice, patient satisfaction, business strategies, revenues and more. (See results on page 33-35)

The analysis looked at concierge medicine’s growth, the business models used, popular trends, and a wide variety of physician surveys, interviews and secure polling data various aspects pertaining to the average practice. These doctors are by choice and nature, treating nearly 90% of every patient’s healthcare concerns, ailments and concerns each year. For over a decade now, concierge medicine has had a love-hate relationship with the public. The public loves the idea or loathes it. However, if they truly understand it, there’s nothing that quite compares to it. It’s an educational curve that’s being overcome in the marketplace on a national level with analysis and education.

The analysis also found that there are currently four states that have a huge lead in the amount of active concierge physicians in practice and consumers seeking their care. Florida, California, Pennsylvania and Virginia each have a significant number of people (most over age 50) seeking out concierge and direct primary care doctors and there is, fortunately, a sizeable number of concierge physicians to serve them.

The analysis also found that from 2012 to 2013, three out of every eight concierge doctors are incorporating unique anti-aging and medical home solutions into their practices in the U.S. They are also seeing their patients nearly two to three times more each year than a traditional concierge and direct primary care practice.

Since the election in November 2012, there has been a tremendous increase in the amount of interest, inquiries and physician searches for concierge/direct care. People are concerned about the Affordable Care Act, access to their physician and unsure about costs. Doctors are adapting. They’re hearing from their patients about what’s successful and learning exactly what’s appealing to their audience and local patients. Most doctors are communicating daily, weekly and monthly — with the majority of patients in a concierge medicine and direct primary care clinic and the outcomes are proving to be beneficial – for both the patient and the doctor.

Why will it grow?

Relationship! Relationship! Relationship! This movement in medicine is based on relationship. When you have a doctor that you know you can call day or night and that he or she will actually pick up the phone, that’s priceless…and that’s true.

This movement is relatively young and data to support the exact number people staying at any given concierge medical practice for longer than 10-15 years is limited. However, as we continue to track these statistic in the years ahead and follow retention data of these practices that we will learn just how happy many people are with these types of old-fashioned health care delivery model offices verses a traditional primary care practice. Soon, we’ll find the “happiness” and “healthy” gap between them to be much greater.

This longer-lasting and more personal relationship will result in greater retention data and further solidify concierge medicine’s rightful place in the healthcare market. These types of doctors emphasize that what’s important to people is  true relationship with their doctor and actual dollar-cost savings each month and every year. These are key findings and critical factors in the renewals of membership medicine or direct primary care plans.

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