Concierge medicine is a kind of arrangement in which the patient has to pay upfront, with unrestricted access to the doctor. Concierge medicine isn’t viral globally yet. However, it’s been picking up in the United States. According to statistics, about 6500 doctors offer this service. The retainer fee patients may differ. However, you should expect to pay between the range of $1200 to $1500 per year. These fees can also be split and paid monthly, or quarterly. Studies have shown that those that signed for concierge healthcare are more satisfied with the quality of service they received from their doctor.
What Are The Best Practices For Concierge Medicine? Below are some of the best practices to have a successful concierge medicine practice: Excellent patient experience: A successful concierge medicine practice must have an excellent patient experience. The patient must have around-the-clock access to the physician. This can be through email, text messages, or other forms of communication. Doctors must also ensure that patients are comfortable when they come visiting. This can be done by providing with refreshments such as coffee, water, drinks and so on. Patients must feel comfortable whenever they come visiting the physician. Fewer patients: The typical arrangement of a concierge practice is to have a doctor that has been practising for a while, and also has a good relationship with his/her patients. The more the patients a doctor has, the less he’d be able to focus on them. A solid relationship between patients and the physician is good for the patient care. Retainer fee financing model: Patients usually pay an amount upfront for whatever services the physician would offer them. This is usually done in two ways. First, The physician can charge a retainer, and charge the patients, for any billable event. As an illustration, if a patient comes in with a wound, the bill would be sent to the insurance company or Medicare. On the other hand, physicians can also charger a higher retainer fee, with no additional charges. This retainer fee would cover whatever it is the patient might need in the future. Research has shown that retainer fees can be as high as $20,000, and can also be as low as $1200 in some parts of America. In direct primary care, doctors would focus on their patients but would forget almost everything about them, as soon as the patient leaves their office. The opposite happens in concierge medicine, as the physicians would actually focus and know their patients. They might even have a knowledge of the name of their patient’s kids. Preventive care: The primary care healthcare only caters to patients when they present to the hospital with complaints. This is different from concierge medicine, as doctors actually work to prevent the development of diseases in their patients. They are able to do this because they tend to develop a relationship with their patients, which can last for many years. They are familiar with all the complaints of the patient and can work with the patient to prevent the development of diseases. They also can stop the progression of the disease before they become severe. Care quarterbacks: Concierge practices has to focus on the care of the patient. Physicians should involve the help of a specialist if there is a need to. Concierge physicians must be good managers, as they would have to manage the health of their patients. This comes to play, especially when the patient has a chronic disease. What Are the Pros And Cons Of Concierge Medicine? Below are some of the pros of concierge medicine: Doctors Have More Time For Patients: This is one of the most critical advantages of concierge medicine. Doctors have more time for their patients. However, since the patients have to pay monthly, quarterly or annually, regardless of falling sick or not. This drives in more income for the doctors. Most concierge doctors usually cap their patients at a maximum of about 300, without losing any revenue. This type of medicine prevents a situation where patients have to rush in and out of the examination room. Concierge medicine is cheaper in the long run: Even though patients might pay more initially, the overall benefits of concierge medicine, would save them a lot of money and even their life in the long run. You can’t put a price on life, and going for concierge medicine is basically having a physician that would monitor your health. They regularly check your vitals and would detect any developing disease or growth. Concierge medicine is the way to go if you have a chronic disease, or need to visit the hospital regularly. Reduction in overhead: By charging the patients an upfront fee, the patients do not have to extra charges. Although, they’d have to pay for the ones that are not covered by the retainer fee. There are different plans of the concierge. Those under the monthly plan can visit the hospital several times without having to pay any extra charge. In this case, only the monthly fee is needed to be paid. Concierge doctors provide both preventive care: The primary care healthcare only caters to patients when they present to the hospital with complaints. This is different from concierge medicine, as doctors actually work to prevent the development of diseases in their patients. They are able to do this because they tend to develop a relationship with their patients, which can last for many years. They are familiar with all the complaints of the patient and can work with the patient to prevent the development of diseases. They also can stop the progression of the disease before they become severe. Personalization: Concierge medicine affords the physician the opportunity to meet the needs of their community. This is beneficial for the doctors, as their community might be willing to pay more for the additional care and services included in concierge medicine. Although concierge medicine has a lot of pros, it also has some cons. Below are some of them: Fewer Patients, Higher Expectation: Although physicians tend to have a lower number of patients, as compared to direct primary care, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they would have more time free time. It’s quite the opposite, the more time they have is used by spending more time with their patients during consultation. Patients that choose to go for concierge medicine practice expect to get additional care, and extra packages. Examples of such services include around-the-clock access to the doctor, telephone and email access to the doctor, and so on. Even though the patient might have less number of patients, these patients might end up taking more time as compared to direct primary care. Loss of patients: Making a switch from direct primary care to concierge medicine usually comes with the loss of some patients. This is because some patients would rather pay for the services after treatment. Also, some patients can’t afford concierge care, so would rather settle for direct primary care. This is one of the problems with concierge medicine. According to studies, doctors making a switch to concierge medicine would only retain about 12% of their patients. Although, the study didn’t factor in the number of patients the doctors gained after they made the switch. Error in pricing: This is one of the problems faced by concierge doctors. It’s easy to make mistakes in the pricing of services provided to patients. In most cases, the business is more likely to record a loss. The product sold in this case is the services provided to your patient. On the other hand, setting the price too high may discourage some patients. So either way, the doctor truly never wins. Although concierge medicine can significantly increase the earnings of doctors, it can also make them lose profit significantly. Overall, it’s a win-win for patients, as they’d get the care and attention they need from their physician. References Alrajab, S. and Uysal, A. (2018). Concierge Pulmonary Medicine. Chest, 153(2), pp.566-567. Simone, J. (2006). Concierge Medicine Revisited. Oncology Times, 28(23), pp.3-4