If you’ve ever wished for more time during your regular doctor’s appointments or wanted to email your physician a question after designated hours, an increasing number of doctors are now offering additional access to added services.
In what is referred to as direct primary care or concierge medicine, your doctor provides additional services when you pay a fee in addition to what your insurance pays. In other words, this is a private form of practice where doctors charge patients an out of pocket retainer fee for full access to their services.
The service is available as a monthly, quarterly or annual fee paid directly to your doctor for a range of personalized care options when you need it. Direct primary care allows you, and your doctor, to know exactly how you or family prefer to be treated. It also saves time, as you don’t have to wait very long at doctor’s offices or repeat your medical history each time.
A growing number of primary care doctors are bringing concierge medicine, which in the past has been considered health care for the wealthy, to middle- income, Medicare & Medicaid populations. And more importantly, concierge medicine is becoming more attractive to both physicians and patients.
In fact, a recent survey of 862 independent physicians found nearly half are considering this alternative method of practice management.
The main attraction to concierge medicine from the perspective of the physician is one of control. Patient loads typically decrease when a physician transitions from a fee-per-service practice to concierge medicine. A concierge doctor may have 500 patients, while a doctor in a traditional practice may have around 2,000. The doctor with the 500 patients is on retainer and has predictable revenue. The physician also spends more time with the patient and really gets to know them. The doctor with thousands of patients, on the other hand, may not have the time or resources to form the same type of relationship and is paid only when the patient comes in.
Concierge medicine can be a great option for physicians who are ready for a change of pace thanks to the smaller patient panel and reduced dependence on insurance reimbursements and for patients seeking more personalized care. While concierge medicine is not meant to replace traditional insurance it is a way to enhance the patient-physician relationship. How likely are you to consider trying concierge medicine?