By Jackie Pilossoph | For Sun-Times Media
APRIL 29, 2014 – There is a reason some patients go to the doctor and feel like they’ve been handed a prescription and rushed out the door.
Because the overhead costs of health care have increased significantly over the last several decades, it’s hard for many doctors to give their patients a lot of time and personal attention, according to Dr. Jeffrey Glass, who has been in private practice for 38 years.
That’s why Glass, an internist with a specialty in gastroenterology, recently changed the structure of his Highland Park practice and began offering a hybrid concierge medical program that allows him to spend more time with his patients.
“The extra time is what I enjoy the most with a patient because you can ask your normal questions and then you have the time to pause and say, ‘What else would you like to talk about?’” said Glass. “That’s important because a lot more information will come out when they see you aren’t rushed, and a lot of times we can intervene and make other things better for them, not just the symptom they came in for that day.”
Patients who enroll in the hybrid concierge program keep their traditional health insurance plan, but pay an annual fee to the doctor for which they receive many benefits. These include same-day appointments, more time allotted for visits, the physician’s cell phone number, which they can call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and help with accessing and scheduling appointments with specialists, if needed.
The program also includes an annual physical exam that is much more intensive than a standard physical. It is tailored to the patient’s needs and includes a broader array of tests.
“Doctors have been reduced down to taking care of the problems of the moment, unlike the past, when they acted as an advocate, a counselor, an advisor, and almost a family member,” said Wayne Lipton, who is the founder of Concierge Choice Physicians, the New York-based company that developed the program Glass offers. “Concierge care enables doctors to act as health care quarterback.”
“This program is allowing me to practice medicine the way it was when I first started practicing,” Glass said.
Edith Trilling of Wheeling has been a patient of Glass’s for 35 years, and has signed up for the program.
“Prior to this, there were times I wasn’t feeling well and if Dr. Glass was out of town I would call and talk to the other physician and they really didn’t know my history so they really couldn’t help,” she said. “I like the idea, especially at my age, of accessibility.”
A hybrid concierge program, which is what Glass offers, differs from a traditional concierge program in that the hybrid program gives patients a choice of whether or not they want to enroll, whereas in the traditional program, patients must either enroll or leave the practice.
“I have a patient population of 2,700, many who have been with me for 30 years,” Glass said. “There was no way I could tell them to go find another doctor. When I heard about the hybrid option, that made sense.”
Glass said the program has been very popular so far, with 100 patients signing up in the first two weeks he rolled it out, and that he continues to get enrollments daily.
“Medicine has become ‘Take care of you, get you out, see the next person,’” said Lipton. “Should it be that way? No, but it’s the reality, and if you have a simple issue, that’s fine. But, if you have a complex problem, sometimes you need more than a prescription and a pat on the back.”
Along with his new practice structure, Glass also has a new location. This spring, he moved his office from its Park Avenue location to First Street in downtown Highland Park.