By Michael Tetreault, Editor/Author, Father & Patient
Last Updated: December 2020/January 2021 – The concierge medicine and direct primary care health industry is just like any other industry — it has many success stories, but it also has a few stories of woe.
Here are some helpful resources we encourage you to read before your first or next visit to a Concierge Medicine Doctor.
- New Patient Checklist | 50 Questions To Ask A “Concierge” Doctor Before You Sign-Up
- Long Time Concierge Doc says “Most of the arguments against concierge medicine fall apart under scrutiny.”
- How many Concierge Doctors personally contact their patients with test results, recommendations, next steps and/or let their staff return these calls?
- Poll, 2020 | How Long Do Patients Stay Under The Care of Their Concierge Medicine Physician?
- POLL, 2019-2020: Does your Concierge Medicine Practice bill/participate w/ Medicare?
- DIFFERENCES: What is the Difference Between Urgent Care, Retail Health Clinics and a Primary Care Doctor’s Office?
- MAPS: Who’s Searching For A Concierge Doctor? New, CMT World-Wide New Concierge Medicine Patient Search (USA)
When choosing a doctor in this subscription-based healthcare delivery model, there is an entirely set of new questions that you want to be sure you have answered for you and/or your family.
“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!”
What if I were to tell you a story about how a Mom with a brain tumor is still loving her kids and living with her family at home because of the early and intentional intervention of a Concierge Physician? Or, what if I were to tell you that a seasoned citizen in the mountains of Montana broke his ankle and was able to video chat with his Doctor while alone on the trail and find a way to limp back to civilization?
For Doctors, some of you have great stories to tell.
But outside the four walls of your practice, people in and around your community are telling an entirely different story. In fact, you’ve probably heard people share horror stories about a recent hospital stay or specialist encounter. People are literally trying to one-up each others stories about how bad healthcare is out there.
For those that get it, you don’t need convincing. The words Concierge Medicine, subscriptions or even membership never bothered you and it never will. You welcome the wincing, the head-scratching and raised eyebrow dialogue and you see how what you are doing can and is helping change the stories people share around you and in your community.
“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
In fact, bloggers are even writing stories about subscription burnout and our auto-billing credit card frequencies. The world around us has changed in the past 20 years.
Healthcare, often known for its slooooooooooow adoption of many things has only been in the past two decades motivated to explore memberships with its communities of patients primarily due to increasing demand and acceptance of such practices.
Bob Buford who wrote a book called “Half Time” about the second half of your life. Runners also talk about this concept. It’s called a “negative split,” and it means that you ran the second half of your race faster than the first half. It means that despite being tired, despite being frustrated, you actually picked up your pace. How many Doctors feel that way today, raise your hand?
Over the past two years we’ve asked actively seeking Patients who regularly read our publication(s), “Why are you searching for a Concierge Physician?” The answers are in the tens of thousands but filter all of those comments down and at the end of the survey, we all want a Physician who “We Know, We Like and We Trust.” A Doctor’s time is valuable. Furthermore, a Doctor saves the day.
He or she is the unsung hero often neglected and unappreciated. Barely a footnote today in the story of our lives. America’s Best Places To Work never include a doctors office. But when someone (e.g. a Doctor) shows up on time, spends some time with us, the Patients tend to learn more and care more about their health.
“Primary Care needs to become relevant again by servicing patients directly and being available and offering the kinds of broad services that family doctors used to offer. This kind of approach will also drive more medical students back into primary care and restore the balance back to the ratios before managed care.” ~Dr. N, Atlanta, GA
Your Free Market Healthcare Choices Are Many. Know The Differences.
Urgent or Retail Healthcare
What is the Difference Between Urgent Care, Retail Health Clinics?
Patient-Centric or Guest-Centric Healthcare
What Is the difference between Patient-Centric vs. Guest-Centric Healthcare?
Millennial or Baby Boomer
Differences Between Millennial and Baby Boomer Healthcare Consumers
Concierge Doctor or Direct Primary Care
INFOGRAPHIC + INSIGHT: The Differences Between DPC and Concierge Medicine
Retail Clinic Consumers
ANALYSIS | Differences in Demographics among Retail Clinic Customers
In Healthcare, Accountant or Bookkeeper?
In the Business of Healthcare, What Is The Difference Between An Accountant and a Bookkeeper?
Home DNA or Clinical DNA?
Home DNA vs. Clinical DNA: What’s the Difference?
Health Advisory or Concierge Physician?
What Is the difference between Health Advisory Firms and Concierge Physician Practices?
Precision Medicine or Personalized Medicine?
NIH: What is the difference between precision medicine and personalized medicine?
You probably won’t get through all of them (maybe 20-25) … but you should come prepared to get your concerns and questions answered to your satisfaction.
Here are a couple of tips shared by Physicians and Patients to help get you started down the right path.
- Before you sign-up and pay a Concierge, DPC or Membership Medicine doctor’s office their fee, you should schedule a complimentary meeting with that doctor to discuss the benefits, services and cost of their practice.
- Bring a copy of these 50 questions as your guide – download the PDF here.
- If your questions are not answered to your satisfaction, don’t feel any pressure from the physician or the staff to join at that moment. Move with certainty and spend your money with wisdom. Most Membership Medicine Doctors office do not deploy hard-sell tactics anyway … but there are always a few that do. Most physicians in this sector say they encourage their new patients to take the necessary time they need to decide whether or not this is an expense and professional healthcare relationship they need/want in their lives. Your next physician should be just as respectful.
- If you need help locating a Membership Medicine Clinic (MMC) near your home/office, click here.
Here are a few questions to get your started.
- Doctor’s Full Name?
- Total years in Practice?
- Years in practice as a Doctor?
- 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 it have the Doctor’s bio. on it?
- What is your annual fee?
- 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 concierge 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?
A lot of people in Concierge Medicine and other similar, familial subscription-healthcare niches all have something in common. Not only do these Physicians understand that ‘Membership drives engagement’ as one incredibly popular group of clinics in Calif. states, but they all understand that healthcare can and should be a marriage of the Hippocratic Oath and the Golden Rule … a love note to patients about what could be and should be in healthcare.
Fast forward twenty years to present day and most of us have subscriptions, both big and small. If we don’t use them, we cancel them, right? Membership equals engagement, whether that be in the form of a movie, a tv show we binge watch or albeit, a Doctor’s office. Today, these business models we use (e.g. Netflix, PRIME, etc.) outside of the four walls of a Doctor’s office help us feel more comfortable with subscriptions and memberships in healthcare. Today, the Doctors offices we visit and hear about so often in the news are constantly evolving and are actually now quite common. Healthcare’s once sloooooooooow acceptance to memberships has now become much more widespread and taken on many forms. Like many industry’s, price points range.
So in conclusion for today, you should 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, 2011. Updated for our December 2020/January 2021 Edition.
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