Concierge Medicine – A New Model for Family Practice
First Choice Family Medicine has introduced Concierge Medicine. We chose this model because of its focus on the highest quality of care. Not the highest number of patients. Concierge medicine is a members-only model. By limiting the number of patients, we can provide a proactive, personalized approach. Employing the Concierge style of family medicine, the doctor can take the time to go more deeply into medical, family, and social history while also addressing your daily activities and stressors.
The Care You Need, when you Need it
Medical care is provided in the most efficient and useful manner for you so that you can get the care you need when you need it. The benefits of this type of practice is that is allows for timely diagnosis and immediate treatment, saving lives and preventing acute problems from becoming critical.
Members Only Means Better Care
Members-only medical management emphasizes wellness and disease prevention, so more time is spent with patients. An important benefit for our members is the use of telemedicine. Not every health issue requires an office visit. This type of practice allows us to focus on a more holistic and well-rounded approach to managing medical conditions through changes in diet, activity, habits, and medications as needed. It is clearly “connected care”.
Dr Nguyen likes to call her concierge practice ‘Connected Care’ because you are connected to your doctor by the many different technologies available without any obstacles. No waiting weeks for an acute illness, waiting hours in the waiting room prior to being seen or having many questions after a 5-minute doctor visit. You’ll get same day visits, phone and video visits, questions answered by text or email, and as much time with your personal doctor as needed for every visit.
Medicine the Way it Should be Practiced
You also get help navigating a very complex medical system. With this model, the doctor is free from many of the constraints of the bureaucratic health system. The membership fee allows for a smaller patient load. Without the bureaucratic push to see more patients, the doctor can provide timely access to high-quality medical care. Imagine having a discussion on your longevity and the opportunity to plan your long-term health! This is how Dr Nguyen envisioned practising medicine. Developing solid, long term relationships with patients facilitates better care, anticipates problems, and encourages preventive medicine.
The top 6 reasons to choose Concierge Medicine
- Accessibility: Direct, easy, and personal communication with your doctor
- Convenience: Same- or next-day appointments with your own doctor
- Consideration: Less wait time and longer appointments to address multiple concerns
- Flexibility: Remote visits if you don’t need to come into the office
- Advocacy: Navigate and coordinate your care in a complex health care system
- Affordability: No copays, deductibles, or surprise bills, just the membership fee
Studies have found that a Connected Care practice reduces the need for unnecessary medications, more expensive testing, and unnecessary referrals to specialists. It is more likely to prevent unnecessary emergency room visits and hospitalizations. This results in saving you money and providing you with better care.
In addition, many people find they can lower the cost of their total medical care by combining a high deductible health plan with a membership practice. Doing so makes joining this practice quite beneficial. My type of practice is also a good fit for those who have no insurance.
So, where did concierge medicine begin and why?
The healthcare industry has seen massive changes over the past decade. Medical breakthroughs, electronic record keeping and transformative pharmaceutical innovations have changed healthcare beyond all recognition, but one area which has remained constant throughout is the doctor-patient relationship.
Now, even that is set to change as the concierge medicine concept gains momentum. But what exactly is concierge medicine and how does it benefit patients?
The concierge concept essentially operates as a direct-care model where the patient pays a monthly fee or retainer in exchange for personalised medical treatment and improved access to doctors.
The concept was pioneered by Dr Howard Maron of Seattle Medical Practice MD2 who started charging patients a flat fee for his services rather than having to rely on the fees stipulated by insurance companies. In turn, this allowed him to greatly increase the level of care he provided his patients, a win-win situation.
The benefits of the concierge medicine concept
Doctors at traditional primary care practices are paid by rates stipulated by insurance providers. Typically these rates do not cover the true cost of healthcare and force doctors to take on more patients than they can comfortably handle. This results in doctors becoming overworked and reduces the amount of time they can dedicate to each patient. A typical primary care practice in the U.S. manages 2,500 patients with doctors forced to see one patient every 15 minutes.
By comparison, a typical concierge practice manages a more limited number of patients. This allows the doctor to spend more time with patients and provide a more personalised level of care. They can also focus more on preventative healthcare measures and offer expedited access to specialised services such as screening and tests.
Here are five benefits of the concierge concept:
1. Better access for patients
With smaller patient rolls concierge practices are far more accessible to patients. This means shorter waiting times, expedited test results and even home visits.
2. Improved continuity of care
The concierge model allows patients to see the same care provider over the course of multiple visits. This allows a long-term relationship to be developed between the doctor and patient which is correlated with improved healthcare results.
3. More personalized service
With fewer patients to see, a concierge provider can afford to spend more time with each patient. A typical consultation with a concierge doctor is around 30 minutes which is twice the amount of time a traditional medical practitioner can spend with a patient.
4. Greater simplicity for doctors
Traditional primary care providers have to deal with complex billing systems which need to be managed by specialist staff if the practice is paid properly for services rendered. By contrast, a concierge practice bills patients directly greatly simplifying the back office.
5. Improved image and reputation for medical staff
Finally, because concierge doctors are able to build closer relationships with patients it helps to build trust and respect between the two parties. This, in turn, improves the image of doctors and makes it more likely that patients will approach their doctor with a complaint earlier rather than waiting until later when it is much more difficult to treat.
While the concierge model is not right for everyone, it does provide many benefits for both patients and doctors. Patients benefit from fewer hospital admissions, expedited access to specialist treatments and improved care for chronic conditions such as high cholesterol and diabetes. Meanwhile, doctors can provide more personalized service and work fewer hours without any loss of pay. No wonder then that the concierge model is starting to gain momentum across the world.