In 15 years as an Internal Medicine physician, Dr. Carrie Cardenas has provided meticulous care, first at her own clinic and later through an award-winning program developed to ease the transition from hospital to home for post-acute care patients. But it wasn’t until she took the reins at a well-regarded San Diego concierge practice in 2018 that she was able to reshape her career with the type of personalized medicine she long sought to offer.
“Making the transition to concierge medicine has been life-changing and rejuvenating. It brought back all the reasons I went into medicine: to serve as educator, advocate and partner to patients,” she says. “I love getting to know them as individuals, to be able to rejoice at their celebrations and see them through their dark, hard times.”
Dr. Cardenas’ journey to concierge medicine took shape during her years at the hospital, where she recognized that the lack of opportunity to form long-standing relationships with patients. While she wanted to return to her private clinic days, she also understood how substantially the healthcare landscape had shifted since then. Rushed, hectic visits were the new normal, with virtually no time available to really listen to patients and hear their life stories.
“Yet, nothing is more essential to the best care,” maintains Dr. Cardenas. “People should never be treated as a set of symptoms. I don’t consider anyone a ‘heart disease patient’ or a ‘diabetic patient’ but in the context of their entire lives.”
She found her solution when two retiring physicians were seeking a talented physician to take over their concierge practice. Working with Specialdocs’ expert team throughout the transition process, Dr. Cardenas was able to negotiate a fair and equitable purchase price for the established practice, retain almost 75% of the retiring doctors’ patients as well as add more of her own, manage a seamless transition, and establish herself as one of the community’s most sought-after physicians.
“In a traditional setting, it would have been nearly impossible for me to attract so many new patients in such a short period of time. Specialdocs helped me to do this well and have been very good at following my lead and supporting my vision of success,” she says.
To Leslie Mitchell, Specialdocs Vice President of Physician-Client Services, that success was assured.
“The concierge level of care offered at the existing practice had unquestionably proved its value to patients over the years, reflected in the opted to stay on with Carrie,” she says. “As we continue to see at practices all over the country, patients are quick to appreciate the many rewards of this model. Chief among these is the time to form a deeper relationship with a dedicated physician, resulting in improved health and much increased satisfaction. And when that is experienced, the limitations of a traditional model become even more apparent and unacceptable.”
For Dr. Cardenas, becoming a concierge physician was a dream realized.
“Before making the change, I was certain I was born in the wrong era, cherishing the idea of an old-fashioned doctor-patient relationship that was rapidly disappearing in today’s medical mainstream. With concierge medicine I have it all – the time to connect with each patient in a very holistic way, a touch of technology for convenience and a true restoration of the human experience.”
Revolutionary Journeys to Concierge Medicine is a video series, presented by Specialdocs Consultants, depicting the paths of physicians who’ve transitioned from traditional practice to a concierge model practice. In their own words, the physicians illustrate the continuing challenges of the traditional practice model and how they were able to make a successful transition to concierge medicine.