Exclusive | Contributed By John T. Kihm, MD, Thomas LaGrelius, MD
The sky isn’t the limit for Concierge Medicine (CM) physicians and charity. Passionate about helping in and beyond their practices, CM doctors “give back” with amazing variety. They volunteer with the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), fly airplanes to remote patients, teach in university settings and lead and guide our communities towards better health.
They volunteer with enthusiasm and passion in communities far and wide and expand the boundaries of health and education to areas untouched and rarely visited by healthcare professionals most of the year. Unbridled from former volume-style medical practices, liberated from insurance constraints and free to think “outside the box,” Concierge Medicine Physicians creatively share their time, energy and financial resources to help and inspire—all while having fun!
Their chosen professional in healthcare and hard-earned practice style, Concierge Medicine, engenders giving. Charitable opportunities abound on scales of adventure, time, and resource commitment. None is better than another, and the best is the one you love and have fun doing. Take the leap—try a new one on for size.
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When up to his ears in alligators, the traditional doctor thinks necessarily more about self-preservation than charity. Outside the insurance swamp, life is better. American College of Private Physician (ACPP) member, Donna Sue Dolle, MD, of Nassua Bay, TX, extolls, “Doing Concierge Medicine has allowed me to do much more in my community. I am very involved in Boy Scouts, which I was unable to do when I had a traditional practice.” Performing Community service, once unthinkable during traditional practice, becomes the norm in Concierge Medicine. Shifting time formerly designated to doing insurance busy-work on family and community, is the starting point for giving. Perhaps lower on the adventure scale, but no less gratifying, family and local time found charity’s base.
Lets look at another Concierge Medicine Physician.
Still local, homeless shelters abound in the US, as do homeless patients. One author and Concierge Medicine Physician, John Kihm, MD, regularly volunteers at Durham, NC’s Samaritan Health Center, a non-profit homeless shelter clinic.
“I doubled my community service time since converting to CM,” he says. “This clinic is incredible fun, not only because it’s fun to give, but helping under-served ‘neighbors’ is rewarding. I love uncovering as-yet undiagnosed and interesting conditions in an incredibly appreciative and interesting population.”
His Concierge Medicine practice also donates medicines, vaccines, and money to the clinic. For those who enjoy giving, charity work rewards beyond description. A notch up on the adventure scale, homeless medicine fits easily into a ½ day per month Concierge Medicine schedule.
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Concierge Medicine Physicians commonly give “scholarships” to needy patients within their practices. Most Concierge Medicine Doctors forgo or discount membership fees to disadvantaged patients who value their doctor. ACPP board member, Sue Turner, MD, of Roswell, GA, figures that 8% of her patients are scholarship.
Concierge Medicine Doctors contract directly with patients, with health insurance secondary. So rather than donating unpaid or underpaid services to insurance companies, Concierge Medicine Physicians donate directly to patients via scholarships.
“Donating to patients rather than to health insurance companies is not only gratifying, it’s liberating,” says Dr. Kihm. As a side benefit, scholarship patients often refer fully-paying family and friends. Patients appreciate good will, and the good doctors reap what they sow.
Teaching, by sharing knowledge, skills and compassion appeals to physicians in Concierge Medicine. They donate time to shadow premed college students, train medical students, residents, nursing and physician assistant students. An informal survey of the ACPP indicates that nearly all teach in some fashion. In traditional medicine, teaching can be very stressful due to time constraints. In Concierge Medicine, teaching is a natural way to share in a less stressful setting.
Donating leadership-time through local, state, and national political work, Drs. Jeff Puglissi, of Greenwich, CT, and Tom LaGrelius, and Marcy Zwelling, of CA, ACPP board members, benefit not only the Concierge Medicine community, but have spoken strongly in the US Congress to represent all independent doctors. Having worked hard to create their dream practices, these very practices support the time and resources to help a myriad of physicians.
Robb Rowley, MD, of Las Vegas, led a group of medical students on a medical mission to Haiti this summer. International mission work involves a very high level of preparation and coordination, including travel plans, vaccinations, and documents, and coordinating with the destination mission regarding housing, travel, clinic facilities and supplies, scope of medical services, and personal safety. The financial outlay per unit time donated is also high. International mission work is adventurous and intense, creating lifelong memories. The palpable patient appreciation inherent with this work makes it all worthwhile.
Finally, in addition to volunteer work, there are always money donations. For example, in disaster relief medicine, unless you are part of a highly organized and experienced group, it may be better to donate money to a reputable relief organization than to “show up to help.” Well-meaning physicians needing food, shelter and personal protection may actually hinder local relief efforts. Current disaster relief emphasizes paying for local help, rather than placing locals idly on the sidelines. Financial donations are extremely valuable and appreciated. Never underestimate your donation’s value.
Compared with traditional medicine, Concierge Medicine liberates physicians to do more for charity, while shedding insurance shackles. Imagination’s boundaries for giving blossom from Concierge Medicine’s hard-working doctors. Local, regional, national and international charity—take your pick–it’s all good. Anyone can give, and those who do will certainly reap far more than they sow.
About The American College of Private Physicians (ACPP.md)
Our goal is to utilize this network to determine the best practice designs for marketing, service offerings, staff training, cross coverage, business management, practice growth and other issues that will add value and quality to your day to day practice. We believe the benefits of affiliation will so outweigh the cost that you will find membership in ACPP a top priority near that of membership in your specialty society.
Advocacy and a strong political voice are important aspects of our charter. We have strong representation with both state and national governments to lobby politicians on the benefits of direct practice. We will show the policy makers that the work we do is not just for those who can easily afford it, but must be made the standard, and a viable choice, for primary care everywhere. Primary care cannot be seen as purely transactional, but based on the relationships that promote trust and confidence between doctor and patient. This is ultimately the best way to lower cost, enhance quality, prevent medical errors, and improve satisfaction. Learn More, visit: www.acpp.md