Concierge Medicine Is Changing the Physician Practice Landscape

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Also known as boutique medicine, concierge medicine is fighting back against a healthcare system that can leave both patients and physicians cold.
Also known as boutique medicine, concierge medicine is fighting back against a healthcare system that can leave both patients and physicians cold.

It's possible you haven't yet heard of it, but you will: concierge medicine is the latest developing trend in healthcare. Also known as boutique medicine, concierge medicine is fighting back against a healthcare system that can leave both patients and physicians cold.

Concierge medicine works like this: physicians charge an annual fee to each patient in their practice; fees can range from hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars. In exchange, patients get 24-hour access to their physician, including last-minute appointments and answers to medical questions. Plus, patients can expect more personalized visits, with appointments lasting nearly an hour.

What are the benefits for physicians who work in these practices? One of the perks of concierge medicine is a better work-life balance. As burnout continues to spread throughout the healthcare community, improving this balance can have a huge impact on reducing that stress. After converting their practice to a concierge model, physicians have cited reduced hours, increased vacation time, and fewer patients per day as some of the benefits.

In addition to a better work-life balance, concierge medicine can decrease the number of patients a physician needs to see in order to make a living. The cash fee payments supplement the physician's practice budget without the headache of insurance provider and managed care reimbursement.

One thing to consider about concierge medicine: most concierge medicine physicians are self-employed. If you're a physician who already has their own practice, concierge medicine may not be much of a leap, but it can be challenging for physicians who are not in private practice.

Another reality of concierge medicine: physicians who run a concierge practice may seriously limit the patient population they are able to treat: Most concierge medicine patients are upper-middle class; low-income patients may not be able to pay an annual fee.

For physicians in private practice struggling to see enough patients to make ends meet, concierge medicine may offer a solution that benefits both physician and patient. While it's not a system that can be implemented everywhere, many physicians and patients will appreciate having the option of more personalized care and a better work-life balance.

References

  1. Cooper K. Concierge medicine: better physician work-life balance? Signature MD. June 20, 2016. http://signaturemd.com/blog/concierge-medicine-better-physician-work-life-balance/. Accessed July 22, 2018.
  2. Santiago AC. Concierge medicine jobs and how it works. Verywell Health. March 30, 2018. www.verywellhealth.com/what-is-concierge-medicine-1736099. Accessed July 22, 2018.
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