MARCH 2015 – Some local patients have access to more personalized medical care since last month, when a Marshall physician changed the way he practices.
Starting Jan.1, Dr. Royston became the first physician in Fauquier County to adopt the “concierge” model.
“I feel empowered to practice medicine the way I was trained,” Dr. Royston, who has 42 years of experience, said in a phone interview Tuesday. “Clinical medicine is my passion.”
Through the concierge model, he emphasizes prevention and patient relationships.
“I believe good communication is fundamental to the physician-patient relationship,” Dr. Royston said.
He affiliated with MDVIP, based in Boca Raton, Fla.
“With the MDVIP model, my patients and I will have a partnership to keep them healthier 365 days of the year, not just in the doctor’s office,” the longtime Marshall physician said. “I will have time to listen, time to examine, and the time to determine the goals of my patients so I can best serve their needs and interests.”
Under the new plan, patients keep their regular insurance and pay flat, annual membership fees of about $1,600 to MDVIP.
Patients’ insurance companies continue to get billed for office visits, prescriptions and other services.
Each concierge patient receives an initial, comprehensive wellness exam, which includes screenings and tests, and a follow-up appointment with Dr. Royston to discuss a plan to improve overall health.
Other patient perks under the new model include extended appointments, 24/7 doctor access, house calls, same-day or next-day guaranteed appointments with no time limit and online personal health records.
While traveling, patients can get urgent care from other MDVIP-affiliated doctors across the country.
Concierge care reduces hospitalization rates, according to MDVIP.
“I have resources at my fingertips that I never had before,” Dr. Royston said. “I have a resource to the traditional and non-traditional side of medicine.”
He also has a personal network of national and regional physicians and specialists in the event a patient needs additional care.
The change has prompted some patients to switch to the practice’s three other physicians, but many of Dr. Royston’s patients chose to stay with him.
Warrenton resident Doug Larson, a patient for more than 30 years, calls Dr. Royston’s recent change an “exciting alternative.”
“I value him as a physician and certainly wanted to stay with him,” Mr. Larson said. “The emphasis of MDVIP is really wellness based, rather than going to the doctor when you are sick. What the wellness exam is about is using a battery of tools to assess your current health . . . developing a plan for you to improve your health outcome.”
He has no long-term health issues and has found his two visits under the new model exceptionally helpful.
“All total, in this first month of this new arrangement, without being ill, I’ve had three hours of quality office time pursuing a baseline of where I’m at and projecting forward the kinds of things that can improve my health,” Mr. Larson said.
For Jerry Carter, a Marshall native and athletic director at Briar Woods High School in Loudoun County, the comfort of having the same doctor for more than 35 years persuaded him to try the new model.
“I’m 60 years old and I’ve been with ‘Ren’ (Dr. Royston) forever…I consider myself very healthy and I didn’t want to change doctors,” Mr. Carter said. “The additional cost didn’t change my mind about staying with ‘Ren.’ I’ve always been happy with Dr. Royston’s care and wanted to keep him as a doctor. The truth is, I put my trust in ‘Ren’.”
Mr. Carter and his family have been patients since Dr. Royston opened the practice in 1976.
“It’s good for a doctor to know your family history,” he said.
A form of patient-focused, personalized medicine, the concierge model continues to grow in popularity.
MDVIP has a network of about 780 affiliated physicians nationwide.
Inova Fairfax Hospital has its own model, and other private practice physicians have adopted concierge medicine.
Although insurance coverage, prices and the extent of care vary, the number of patients per concierge physician remains low.
Physicians affiliated with MDVIP can have no more than 600 patients.
Dr. Royston hopes to “empower the patient to make an educated decision” by hosting several educational seminars, such as healthy cooking, in the coming year.
He earned his medical degree from Virginia Commonwealth University College of Medicine in Richmond in 1973 and completed his residency at Inova Fairfax in 1976.
That year, he started Countryside Family Practice.
Dr. Royston served a year as president of the Medical Society of Virginia and received the Fauquier board of supervisors’ Citizen of the Year award for Marshall District in 2011.