March 02, 2016
Naples has the highest concentration of physicians in concierge practices nationwide, but the kid-glove care isn’t exclusive to the affluent anymore, industry officials say.
More average income adults focused on their health will pay for an enhanced relationship with a primary care doctor, giving rise to more physicians converting their practices, said Tom Blue, a board director with the American Academy of Private Physicians in Clearwater.
Concierge physicians provide in-depth annual physicals, longer office visits and timely interaction over the phone or with next-day appointments, among other perks. The average annual membership fee is $1,500, Blue said.
“You have the greatest density,” Blue said. “It’s not a huge number, but relative to the population size, it is enormous.”
The survey found 40 or more concierge physicians in Naples, while Richmond is in the 30s, he said.
The Collier County Medical Society has a list of 35 concierge physicians among its members, and the number is growing, April Donahue, executive director, said. That’s out of 115 members in primary-care fields.
Concierge physicians limit the number of patients they see to several hundred, and some accept Medicare and commercial insurance, while others will not.
What has fueled the migration of physicians to concierge practices over the past 15 years is frustration with low reimbursement, endless documentation for insurers and an inability to have relationships with patients.
But a new twist is that many physicians want to incorporate lifestyle medicine — namely the value of nutrition, exercise, sleep and stress reducers — as a component that isn’t typically covered by insurance, Blue said.