Concierge Medicine: Fighting Back With Highly-Personalized Patient Care
Concierge medical care has been gaining momentum steadily over the years.
Unlike the traditional system – you, the patient, pay a fee or a retainer to have more personalized care and better access to doctors.
A Seattle-based doctor started concierge medicine in 1996 when he asked his patients to play a retainer, and in return, his patients would receive what he called “highly attentive medicine.”
The concierge system goes by other names such as:
- Direct care
- Boutique medicine
- Retainer-free practice
- Membership medicine
Helping The Doctors Who Help You
With many patients and doctors turning to concierge medical care, the doctors will carry a lighter patient load, and patients will get highly personalized, attentive, and speedy medical care.
This will have a consequence of doctors not having to rely on the fees-for-service regulated by insurance companies.
The Spirit Of The Profession
The spirit behind concierge medical care takes me back to my purpose for becoming a physician – which was to help patients with medical needs.
When I was studying to become a physician, I knew I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. Being a doctor, I was going to be able to change lives one patient at a time.
Looking at the current state of the health care system, I worry that patients are receiving lower quality care and fellow doctors experiencing collective burnout.
Granted that there many factors that could contribute to it such as increasing demands, less time with patients and more time spent on reaching a quota, culminating in healthcare that don’t enhance patients’ health and a loss of sense of fulfillment for doctors.
This concern echoes the sentiments of the 210,000 or so U.S. primary care physicians that includes family physicians, general practitioners, general internists, general pediatricians, and geriatricians.
Insurance companies don’t pay for concierge services at this time; they would not like the idea of concierge physicians having less payout, fewer hospital admissions, and improved care to prevent chronic conditions that are expensive to treat.
Doctors who choose to become general practitioners instead of specializations can spend more time with patients, build better relationships, and produce outcomes beneficial to the patient’s health and their well-being. Mounting evidence shows that this practice reduces hospitalization rates.
By taking the specialization route, time is eaten up by filling out electronic forms, instead of interacting with the patient. There’s also the ever constant pressure from the organizations who employ us to work faster and earn more revenue.
I think it’s better to give highly personalized care to some 500 patients for 1-2 hours than to 2,000 patients for just 15 minutes each.
As a physician, I am counting on the time when patients and doctors will realize that high-quality medical care offered at a slower rate provides better value than the rushed medical care that many doctors are pressured to do.
With concierge practice, I can spend way more than 15 minutes with a patient with no rush, and I have the freedom to get to know my patients, which means there is no need for me to enter their details into a system since I get to know my patients.
Here, there are no people in between me and my patient carrying forms to be filled out, stopwatches to be obeyed, and cash registers to be fed.
I finally have the freedom to practice with the level of patience and dedication that good health care requires.
For both patients and doctors, morale is declining. But there is a silver lining in the form of concierge medicine.
Concierge Medicine: Standout, Personalized, Immediate Service
I had a patient who all of a sudden developed a severe and debilitating headache as he got in his car that he couldn’t drive. This was on a Sunday.
Being my patient, he was able to reach me at all hours and any day on my personal number. I was able to attend to him. I advised for him to go to the emergency room.
And when he arrived outside the emergency room, I had a team of specialists waiting for him. My team proceeded to roll my patient into the hospital.
Within minutes, my patient was having a CAT scan. It was an aneurysm that he suffered, which if he had to wait for his turn at the clinic or if he had to fill out forms, would have proved life-threatening.
Immediate appointments, highly-personalized treatment, 24/7 service, no waiting, and more one-on-one time with doctors is made possible by concierge medical care.