Concierge

Concierge Medicine: A Patient Centered Care Model

October 04, 2020

Harsha Moole, M.D., MBBS

What is Concierge Medicine?

Concierge medicine is a health care model that is committed to patient centered care. Concierge medicine is a membership-based model wherein patients are able to receive direct medical care from their concierge doctors, without having to deal with middlemen a.ka. Insurance and corporate companies.

Having a concierge medicine membership entails 24/7 access to your doctor’s personal line, same day appointments, extended consultation times, and more.

One of the many good things about concierge medicine is that doctors only have a limited number of patients that they see in a day or week, which gives them enough time to spend with each of their patients.

Another benefit of this model is that patients have an option to pay their membership fees monthly, quarterly, or annually – which are a lot more affordable compared to the traditional fee-for-service model.

Concierge Medicine History

Here’s a little experiment: ask your grandparents how seeing a doctor was like in the 60’s.

In those days, seeing their doctor usually meant expecting a kind yet stern gentleman come into their home (think bowler hat-clad with a medical bag in hand) and see how their health was doing.

Concierge medicine is, at its most basic, a return to the age when doctors made house calls and were paid directly by the patients they treated. - Paul Sisson, UT San Diego

The interaction was simple, straightforward, and highly personalized – not to mention, these doctor-patient relationships transcended generations and were as tight-knit as could be. It was not uncommon for your grandparents doctor to also end up taking care of everyone else in the family as well.

During those times, if a family member was sick, our grandparents only ever had to give their family doctors a ring and their doctors will come and pay them a visit.

Why Concierge Medicine?

We have seen America’s health care industry take a turn for the worst within the past few decades. The takeover of third parties, such as insurance companies and corporate hospitals, has created a complicated web of a system that is detriment to doctor, patient, and the fundamental relationship between the two.

This insurance-based, fee-for-service health care system requires patients to spend more and more each year for amenities that don’t even have their health and well-being as the top priority.

Can you believe the amount of money spent on health care continues to increase 6.4% each year in the past two decades alone? That’s faster than the rate of inflation and average wages. Pretty alarming, don’t you think? Family care physicians definitely believe it’s a cause for concern.

Concierge Medicine

That being said, America’s health care industry is undergoing an evolution of sorts as we speak. As patients are made to bear heavier financial responsibility, it naturally follows that they will also demand the quality of patient centered care that is equivalent to what they are paying for.

This demand has not been met for a long time and it seems that the current health care system is looking a little worse for wear. Family care physicians are unhappy with not being able to provide their patients with the attention and care they deserve; hence, the development of a health care model that is focused on patient centered care called concierge medicine.

Originally regarded as a hefty health care system that’s exclusive to the rich and famous, concierge medicine has transformed over the years to offer the same first-rate services to the average American citizen.

Concierge medicine is now widely available and more affordable, featuring a more direct doctor-patient relationship, premium patient centered care, and a simple, straightforward system that cuts out all of the intermediaries.

While this new and improved model initially began with primary care specialties (i.e., internal medicine, pediatrics, geriatrics, concierge family medicine, and direct primary care or DPC), it has since branched out to include specialties such as dentistry, general surgery, gynecology, cardiology, and oncology, to name a few.

Depending on the scope of services and payment terms you wish to avail, the subscription fees of the following specialties range from $30 to few hundred dollars per month.

While it is true that your concierge medicine subscription does not replace your insurance plan, the priceless benefits you get out of concierge medicine truly outweigh the cost. One of these benefits include reducing your health insurance to one that covers catastrophic health expenses and subspecialty services only, considering that your concierge medicine subscription already covers everything else with regard to routine care.

In this blog, we will cover all the important questions about concierge medicine – what it can offer, how it takes care of patients like you better, what the difference is between concierge medicine and direct primary care, and how much it will cost to avail of the health care you deserve (hint: it’s not as outrageous as you think!).

How Does Concierge Medicine Work?

  1. There is a limit on the number of patients concierge doctors see on a daily basis to make sure that there is enough time to address every patient’s health concerns.
  2. Concierge medicine offer affordable membership fees for patients. Fees could be paid on a monthly, quarterly, or yearly basis.
  3. Generally, upper middle class patients get themselves a concierge medicine doctor.
  4. There is a thin line between concierge medicine and direct primary care. Typically, concierge medicine and DPC models have a lot of common characteristics, so bottom line is you should know which among these two practices is able to offer you the most benefits you need.
  5. One key distinction of concierge medicine from DPC is that it is high-end service-focused and added-value oriented.
  6. Both concierge medicine and DPC models offer patients 24/7 access to your doctor’s personal line, unlimited appointments, etc.
  7. Copay fees are not charged every time a patient sees their concierge doctors.
  8. Having a concierge medicine subscription with monthly, quarterly, or annual fees already cover both access and primary care visits.

Difference between Concierge Medicine and Direct Care

A common myth about DPC and concierge medicine is that the former is an inferior version of the latter. Although it is true that the DPC practice is more affordable by nature, there are deeper differentiating factors between the two than just price points.

According to Concierge Medicine Today, “What distinguishes DPC and concierge medicine from each other is not price, but demography, insurance participation of the concierge doctor, billing methods, and the amount of services offered within the subscription.”

Concierge Medicine is Patient Centered Care

First and foremost, transactions are limited between concierge doctor and patient, eliminating a slew of administrative staff that only makes health care interactions unnecessarily tedious and complicated. You’ll be surprised how simple, affordable, and stress-free direct patient care is once you take all the middlemen out of the equation.

With concierge doctors, long-term health management and patient relationships are superior in any given situation. Concierge Medicine Today puts the advocacy of concierge doctors into words so perfectly, “A concierge doctor becomes [a patient’s] source for all things medical.”

“Essentially, they become a trusted friend, advocate and stand fully prepared to help their patients navigate the complex health care system. In the event of emergencies, hospital care is closely monitored, and specialists are often personally briefed and debriefed by concierge doctors on behalf of their patients.”

What does concierge medicine have that traditional insurance based health care does not?

Premium patient centered care, for one? This new breed of concierge doctors is reminiscent of the ones our grandparents have come to know and trust.

Here are key definitions you should keep in mind if you’re considering making the switch:

  • Concierge doctors limit the number of patients they see to ensure enough time is devoted to every patient.
  • Concierge medicine goal is to incorporate as much services as possible within your subscription.
  • Concierge medicine gives patients the privilege to access their concierge doctors directly via their personal line. If you need medical advice, your concierge doctor is on call for whatever you need.
  • Concierge doctors do not usually charge copay fees every time you need to see them, although some of them continue to bill their patient’s insurance company for covered services on top of the subscription fee.
  • Concierge doctors, work for you without the influence of any third party. They have no vested interests other than your health and well-being alone.
  • That way, there is a fundamental level of trust that comes with seeing your concierge doctor knowing that they have your best interests at heart.
  • Concierge doctors have more than enough time to evaluate your state of health and even educate you about how to best maintain your well-being.
  • Lab tests and procedures are only done when absolutely necessary, thereby saving the patient from wasting their time, money and effort.
  • With a concierge medicine subscription, your out-of-pocket expenses will decrease drastically.
  • Concierge doctors offer their patients heavily discounted lab procedures and out-patient services as well as medication at wholesale cost.

Physicians and patients alike are switching to the concierge medicine practice and its time you hear what they have to say about it.

This new and improved health care model is motivated by patient dissatisfaction over America’s failing health care system and it’s the solution this industry needs. Who knew bulk of the solution was simply all about allowing more time spent between doctor and patient?

What Services are Covered Under Concierge Medicine?

Here’s a side-by-side guide to help you out.

1. A traditional family physician works for their affiliate insurance company or corporate hospital. This means that they are inclined to make decisions based on what will put said entities in a financially better position.

Concierge doctors, on the other hand, work for you without the influence of any third party. They have no vested interests other than your health and well-being alone. That way, there is a fundamental level of trust that comes with seeing your concierge doctor knowing that they have your best interests at heart.

2. Trips to see your traditional family physician is nothing short of an ordeal. Per AARP, Americans wait about 24 days before they get to see a new doctor. Once they finally get to their local family medical clinic, patients wait for an average of 18 minutes for an appointment that lasts 5-10 minutes tops.

If you have follow-up questions or concerns, there is no way to reach your family doctor other than to do the whole process all over again. In concierge medicine, complicated, long-playing booking procedures are unheard of. You can quickly reach your concierge doctor for same-day appointments, home visits, doctor’s personal cell phone access or even tele-consultations.

3. As a follow-up to the previous point, booking an appointment at your local clinic is an entirely different story. Patients are required to endure frustrating front desk calls, problematic booking platforms, being put on hold, or going straight to voice mail.

In contrast, concierge medicine gives patients the privilege to access their concierge doctors directly via their personal line. If you need medical advice, your concierge doctor is on call for whatever you need.

4. Patients have fallen victim to higher and higher medical expenses each year even when they have insurance premiums to supposedly save them from that. It is not uncommon for patients to spend $6,000 a year on out-of-pocket expenses on top of $240 worth of monthly premiums.

With a concierge medicine subscription, your out-of-pocket expenses will decrease drastically. This is because concierge doctors offer their patients heavily discounted lab procedures and out-patient services as well as medication at wholesale cost.

5. Primary care physicians not having enough time with their patients is one of the largest pain points of the traditional health care model. First, physicians are forced to provide the “cookbook treatment”, a generic form of patient care that does nothing to understand and individualize each patient’s health.

This is also the reason why physicians tend to pass on their patients from one specialist to the next. Because they do not have time to carefully assess the health conditions of their patients, they prefer to eliminate the risk of liability by having the patient undergo a series of tests and procedures instead.

On the other hand, concierge medicine is characterized by highly individualized direct patient care. Concierge doctors have more than enough time to evaluate your state of health and even educate you about how to best maintain your well-being. This way, lab tests and procedures are only done when absolutely necessary, saving the patient from wasted time, money, and effort.

Rushed, robotic appointments are the norm in the traditional health care model. Because primary care physicians have to go through patient after patient each day, it is close to impossible for them to develop a relationship with each one.

Gary LeRoy, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, shares, “Primary care physicians, first and foremost, want an ongoing relationship with their patients” – and concierge medicine is able to provide exactly that. Happier doctors equal to satisfied patients. When doctors are able to sit down and spend time with their patients, it restores the layer of trust between doctor and patient.

Benefits of Concierge Medicine

There are the few benefits that helps you to choose Concierge Medicine over traditional insurance based health care.

  • Doctor-patient relationship is the core of concierge medicine.
  • This new health care model gives you 24/7 access to your doctor.
  • Having a concierge doctor takes away intermediaries.
  • Patients can apply for monthly, quarterly, or annual memberships with their concierge doctors. This also gives them access to various health care benefits.

Is Concierge Medicine A Better Option?

Physicians and patients alike are switching to the concierge medicine practice and its time you hear what they have to say about it. This new and improved health care model is motivated by patient dissatisfaction over America’s failing health care system.

It is a transforming solution that this industry needs. Who knew bulk of the solution was simply all about allowing more time spent between doctor and patient?

Jim Williams, MD, a concierge doctor in the primary care practice, shares, “The most important benefit [of concierge medicine] for the patient is that their concierge doctor is far more accessible. The office visits last much longer – in fact, as long as the patient needs”.

Consequently, Sean Dougherty, a 52-year-old public relations executive from New York City, says his parents are highly satisfied with their concierge doctor in Maine. “What we found was that the value was in being able to reach the doctor any time for any reason, and that he always had time for them.” If anything, the greatest endeavor concierge medicine can achieve is to restore the level of health care our grandparents were accustomed to.

This is what FindMyDirectDoctor.com stands for. Our life’s work is to improve the health and well-being of patients like you by doing well on two very important things: first, making the invaluable benefits of direct primary care and concierge medicine doctors consistently available to you, and second, connecting you to a wide selection of direct primary care and concierge medicine physicians who are just a phone call away.

Join the movement for improved patient centered care and see a concierge doctor in your area today. Find your nearest concierge Medicine Doctor at – www.findmydirectdoctor.com

Authored by Harsha Moole, M.D., MBBS

Advocate of healthcare models that promote direct relationship between patients and doctors. Founder @ FindMyDirectDoctor, LLC.

Read more here.