You studied medicine and became a doctor because you enjoy helping people. You went into practice and work long hours because your patients need you. When you see a problem, you want to fix it.
However, what if the problem isn’t with your patients’ health but with your practice’s fee-for-service business model? Don’t you want to make healthcare work better and more efficiently for everyone?
The types of business model that physicians primarily use for their patient practices are:
- Private practice: Physicians own their practices and — in addition to treating patients — are responsible for managing (or outsourcing the management of) office duties. Doctors in private practice can take on as many or as few patients as they like, but the hours and responsibilities are often greater. Forty-nine percent of physicians worked in a private practice in 2020, which is a decrease from 54% of physicians in 2018.
- Group practice: Two or more doctors within the same practice provide medical services. They share practice responsibilities and office staff and divide the income among them.
- Hospital-based: Physicians are employees of a hospital or multi-hospital system. The hospital also employs the office staff and manages the responsibilities of the practice. As employees, physicians in a hospital-based system have less control over what hours and days they work and the number of patients they see each day.
In a medical practice that is often overworked and inefficient, challenges to patient care might include:
- Long wait times (weeks or months) for patients to see doctors
- Acute health issues developing into chronic conditions if patients can’t be seen in a timely fashion
- Overburdened emergency departments being used as primary care facilities
- Nursing, tech and administration shortages due to stressed and overworked medical and office staff
What can be done about these issues? How can healthcare be done differently? Welcome to concierge medicine.
What Is Concierge Medicine?
In a concierge practice, physicians are paid a monthly or annual retainer by their patients. In return, concierge doctors make time in their schedules to see and treat their patients for regular wellness visits or in situations when more immediate care is warranted.
During a concierge appointment, more time can be spent with each patient, enabling more thorough examinations and consultations. Concierge visits are typically more personalized, with a greater emphasis placed on wellness and illness prevention.
There are many benefits of concierge medicine, including:
- Shorter wait times: With same-day or next day appointments, patients can see doctors sooner, making conditions and symptoms more manageable. This can also improve patient satisfaction, as they can receive medical attention more quickly, rather than wait for appointment openings for weeks or months.
- Less reliance on emergency rooms: Time spent in the waiting room for wellness visits is typically shorter. As a result, people are more likely to see their primary care physician rather than turn to the emergency room.
- Better patient care: Office visits are often less rushed, so physicians can ask more questions to learn more about their patients’ physical health and mental wellbeing. Additionally, patient visits can include health coaching and other preventive measures.
- More flexibility: Virtual consultations between physicians and patients are available. Plus, patients’ adult dependent children between the ages 18-26 might also qualify for the concierge plan, sometimes with additional, lower membership fees.
- A network of caregivers: Concierge doctors can typically refer patients to specialists and admit patients to hospitals, allowing them to give their patients the care they need when they need it.
Patients and dedicated staff deserve better and more efficient healthcare than the current fee-for-service business model. That is why more physicians and patients are choosing concierge medicine.