Full Checklist | 50 Questions To Ask A “Concierge” Doctor Before You Sign-Up
By Michael Tetreault, Editor/Author, Father & Patient
Last Updated: August 2020
Like you, I like lists. They help keep us focused and organized. I have kids and a busy life and keeping up with health concerns when I visit my Doctor is tough for everyone.
“It’s a different type of busy … My day is just as long now, if not longer. But, I’m spending a lot more time with all of my patients. In between visits, I’m on the phone checking on people at home.” ~Physician in FL
The concierge medicine healthcare space though is just like any other industry — it has many success stories, but it also has a few stories of woe. Not many and certainly not as many “patient burnout” stories as traditional, plan reimbursed physician offices. But when you choose a Doctor, he/she should be a good one.
There’s a difference between a “good” Doctor and a “great” Doctor and you’ll know it by how they take the time to listen and respond to these questions.
Here are a few questions to get your started.
- Doctor’s Full Name?
- Total years in Practice?
- Years in practice?
- Do you have multiple locations? If so, where?
- Do you have a web site?
- Can I read patient reviews about the doctor and his/her practice?
- Does your web site have the Doctor’s bio? on it?
- What is your monthly, quarterly or annual membership fee(s)?
- How do I pay the doctor?
- Do you accept quarterly or monthly fees?
- What services are covered by the annual fee?
- Do you offer any discounts for couples and/or families that join (if applicable)?
- What additional fees are not included in the annual membership fee?
- Will I be required to pay even if I do not need to use your services?
- What services can I expect to receive directly from your nursing staff or other healthcare professionals at the practice each year during my membership?
- Do you accept Insurance? How compatible is your medical practice and services with my health insurance plan?
- Do you participate in Medicare? (If applicable)
- Do I need insurance to enroll or sign-up?
- Is there a co-pay?
- May I see a copy of your Medical Service(s) Agreement?
- What if I need to go to the hospital or emergency room?
- Will my insurance reimburse my monthly fee?
- If applicable, tell me about what’s included in your Annual Physical?
- Tell me about after-hours care and the doctors 24/7 availability.
- Can I still see my gynecologist? (If applicable)
- If a duplicate test is ordered by your office and by a specialist I’ve recently seen, will you coordinate with that specialist’s office to receive the results so I do not have to go thru the same process more than once? If not, why not?
- What is your annual patient retention? (I.e. do you retain most of your patients annually?)
- What about lab, x-ray and specialists’ fees and hospitalizations?
- How long do in-office visits typically last?
- How long will I have to wait if I come in for a visit?
- Do you provide home visits or delivery of prescriptions to my office of home?
- What if I have an emergency or need hospitalization?
- What hospitals does this doctor have admitting privileges to in this area?
- What about the cost of prescription medicines?
- Can I receive text messages from my doctor? E-visits, Skype Video chat, or FaceTime thru iPhone?
- What type of new technology do you use regularly in your concierge medical practice?
- If I call my concierge doctor at 8pm or 2am for an urgent healthcare concern, what will happen? I.e. Will the doctor be available?
- What if I need to see a medical specialist or need surgery?
- How difficult is it to get an appointment?
- Do you provide same or next-day visits with unhurried appointments that start on time with the doctor?
- What happens if my doctor goes on vacation?
- What happens if I am hospitalized in another state or country?
- How will you, your office staff, etc., communicate with me and oversee my care?
- What happens if I move out of the area after I enroll?
- Can I enroll in a concierge medicine plan anytime in the future?
- What if I get married or have/adopt a child?
- Can I extend coverage to my new family members?
- Do you provide help for out-of-town family members visiting for a few days in the event that they have a health issue?
- Do you have any specials/discounts running right now?
- How do I sign up?
So in conclusion, you should know that in this subscription-based healthcare delivery model across the county and now abroad, there is an entirely set of new questions that you want to be sure you have answered for you and/or your family. Don’t settle for mediocre. If you want “standard” care, you can absolutely find a “standard” answer from a “standard” Doctor. For me and my family, I want and they deserve more and we won’t settle.
“America’s Best Places To Work never include a doctors office,” says Michael Tetreault, Editor of the trade publication and conference host, Concierge Medicine Today. “Inside traditional medicine, patients expect to wait. They expect insurance to cover their visit. When it does not, they expect to fight. Consumers of healthcare today say they expect a disengaged staff and an unpleasant visit when at the Doctor’s offices. Concierge Medicine and its offspring of other subscription-based healthcare delivery models in primary care, family medicine and even sometimes in the specialties — give people a choice. They give people options and that’s a good thing!”
You should also understand that the world is looking at Concierge Medicine in all of its forms, all of its price points and all of its wonder and the people around you are turning this snow globe over and saying, ‘Huh, maybe I should give this a try.’
For some, it is a welcome reprieve. For others, it is so radically simple it’s strange. We all do everything we can to make our friends and family feel at home when we invite them to dinner. Yet in a healthcare environment, we are minutes away from walking in a medical office and expect we will receive something entirely different, and most often, we do.
Original Article, APRIL 25, 2016. Updated for our December 2018/January 2019 Edition.