By Bayan Raji | Reporter- Houston Business Journal
SEPTEMBER 9, 2013 – More physicians are changing the way they see patients in an attempt to stay afloat financially as they face increased overhead and decreased reimbursement.
Concierge medicine, or direct care, is when patients pay a set fee to have unlimited access to a physician. Wayne Lipton, CEO of Concierge Choice Physicians LLC in New York, said he’s seen a 30 percent to 40 percent increase in doctors participating over the past several years.
“Medicine is going through a metamorphosis,” Lipton said. “The change is being sparked by the economics of medicine and the relationship government has to medicine and the relationship patients have to the cost of getting care.”
The hybrid model Lipton touts allows doctors to keep normal patient hours and designate several hours each day to exclusively see patients who participate in the program.
Patients who pay for concierge services reportedly have more time to visit with the physician, have direct contact information for the doctor and have access to enhanced services that might not be covered by Medicare or private insurance.
The average hybrid model is $160 per month for the patient, Lipton said.
“It’s another revenue stream that’s direct revenue,” Lipton said. “It puts control in the hands of patients and doctors and opens up the free-market approach.”
More doctors are turning away new Medicare patients, Houston Business Journal previously reported. Lipton contends the concierge model enables physicians to continue to see Medicare and private-pay customers while keeping their books balanced.
Dr. Jeff Alford is a family practitioner in Sugar Land who decided to keep normal patient hours in addition to seeing concierge patients, in part because of the uncertainty over the direction health care is headed, he said.