In the past, a visit to the doctor meant weeks or months of waiting for an available appointment, long periods in the waiting room, confusing paperwork to be filled out and re-filled out, and new care providers to become accustomed to and teach about your medical history. Going to the doctor used to be a huge hassle, one that has caused many people to avoid doctors altogether, or go only when absolutely necessary. Let’s face it, going to see a doctor is stressful enough on its own, but add needing to heavily self-advocate and push for personalized care every time you visit, and going to the doctor can become a downright nightmare.
What people really want when visiting the doctor is that touch of personal care that makes them feel safe, understood, and looked after. Patients want to rely on their doctors to be able to help them when they need it, not just once a year or when it’s most convenient for the doctor. Health is personal, so healthcare should be personalized, which is precisely why concierge medicine is the latest trend to hit the world of medicine.
‘Concierge medicine’ is a type of medicine with a focus on creating close, personal relationships between doctors and their patients to provide better services and make themselves more available to patients when they need it. Doctors practicing ‘concierge medicine’ are typically paid a retainer by their patients, thereby guaranteeing their availability and saving a ‘slot’ on their list of personal patients. Concierge medicine is like having your own personal, dedicated doctor on-call at all hours, making it super convenient for you to get care when you need it.
How Concierge Medicine Works
Unlike traditional medicine, doctors practicing concierge medicine do not accept a certain number of patients per day. They accept a certain number of patients total. Rather than making a doctor’s office your regular office but seeing different doctors every time, or seeing your primary physician once a year for an annual checkup, concierge medicine allows the patient to see the same doctor whenever they need to. Here’s how it works:
To retain a slot on a concierge doctor’s list of patients, the patient must pay a retainer fee which varies by doctor and by market. In exchange, the doctor commits to seeing only a certain number of patients and must be able to provide each of these patients with adequate time and attention. Essentially, the retainer fee pays for the doctor to be available to their patients at a moment’s notice, and allows them to focus only on the few people they treat in a year.
Benefits of Concierge Medicine
Wondering whether concierge medicine might be right for you? Let’s talk about the benefits! Along with more availability, less hectic scheduling, and more personalized care, there are plenty of reasons doctors and patients alike are beginning to show an interest in concierge medicine. Let’s take a look at the benefits from both perspectives to give you an idea of why concierge medicine services are set to take off over the next decade:
Feeling sick or getting injured isn’t something you plan, but going to the doctor is. Getting an appointment with your primary care provider can be a weeks or even months-long process, depending on how high their demand is, the size of the office, and the priority of your needs. Unfortunately, when an infection or a bug hits, you don’t always have time to schedule ahead, and you need care from a doctor now.
Concierge medicine allows your doctor to be far more available to you since your retainer payment ensures that they take on only a limited number of clients to keep a fairly open schedule. In case of illness, a medical mishap, or some other circumstance that requires the help of a doctor, patients who pay for concierge medicine will be able to see their provider immediately rather than waiting days just to hear back from the office.
In addition to more availability, patients of concierge doctors enjoy longer exam sessions, same-day and last-minute appointments/rescheduling, personalized medical care, direct access to doctors via phone or email, and more.
According to AARP, doctors typically dedicate less than 15 minutes to each patient they treat, leaving the bulk of the interaction up to nurses, PAs, and administrative staff. As a result, many doctors feel out of touch with their patients and struggle to make the kinds of personal connections that would allow them to properly treat chronic illnesses, provide adequate lifestyle advice, and readily detect physical or lab abnormalities. Doctors simply don’t have enough time to dedicate to each of their patients, since most are too busy running from patient to patient to complete their tasks.
Concierge medicine allows doctors to put that personal touch into the care they provide by freeing up their time to allow for longer patient visits, more frequent patient visits, and more interaction with patients between visits. Mobbed by hours of non-stop work, most doctors simply don’t have the time or energy to talk to all 25 patients they see each day, much less the hundreds they treat each year. Concierge medicine providers can dedicate more time to each client without sacrificing pay or cutting back on the job they love to do.
Entering the world of concierge medicine can also reduce the stress experienced by doctors by reducing the overall number of hours they spend with new patients and allowing them to focus instead on providing the best service for a select few patients. By getting to know their patients super-well, concierge doctors can provide the best possible care, and quickly detect or diagnose issues as small changes occur over time.
A concierge doctor only takes 300-600 patients compared to the traditioinal primary care doctor who is responsible for thousands of patients.
Who Qualifies for Concierge Medicine?
If concierge medicine sounds luxurious, that’s because it is, but feeling luxurious doesn’t mean something is a luxury. No, concierge medicine isn’t just for celebrities and the super-wealthy – everyday individuals from every walk of life love the flexibility and high-quality service they receive from concierge medicine. With membership prices starting as low as $100 per month, patients in virtually every income bracket can afford to retain their very own doctor and can skip the long lines and uncomfortable wait times.
Though concierge medical services charge patients a monthly retainer fee, most still accept health insurance and charge standard co-pay rates. So, while the monthly membership will come out of pocket, your insurance will likely still cover things like checkups, medication, and basic procedures. Anyone can qualify for and join a concierge medicine service, so don’t let not being a millionaire stop you from getting the personal health care you deserve.
If you are a medical provider or physician interested in entering the world of concierge medicine, reach out to set up a consultation where you’ll learn more about what we do to make your job even easier. We handle everything you need to convert your practice of medicine into a membership model and enjoy better work / life balance and get back to loving medicine again.