Pros and Cons
It is usual in the healthcare business for people to wait weeks or months for a doctor’s appointment, and then wait even longer for treatment. This is the typical healthcare model. The healthcare sector has evolved in recent years to the point where new models of healthcare delivery have emerged, with concierge medicine being one of them.
What is Concierge Healthcare?
The basic idea behind concierge medicine, also known as boutique medicine, membership medicine, and direct care, is that a patient pays a monthly or annual fee to have access to a physician. Although most concierge healthcare practices take insurance, the retainer charge is currently an out-of-pocket expense for patients.
Concierge medicine eliminates all of the hassles associated with traditional primary care and re-focuses the attention on the patient. The concierge model empowers patients to be proactive about their health by removing the barriers that prevent them from doing so.
Simply put, concierge medicine refers to direct access to a primary care physician. In this model of care delivery, also known as retainer-based medicine, platinum practice, or direct primary care, the patient has round-the-clock access to their physician via phone or email, same-day appointments, along with highly personalized and comprehensive care.
This model builds a relationship between a patient and a primary care physician in which the patient pays a fee, also known as a membership fee.
Concierge medicine is, at its core, about developing a personal relationship between physician and patient — a relationship that considers the patient’s specific wellness needs as well as their likes, dislikes, goals, and dreams.
The membership fee enables this personal relationship to form by allowing doctors to drastically reduce their panel size, typically from 2500-4,000 to 500-600.
Concierge Medicine vs. Traditional Primary Care
In a large metropolitan region, a new patient must wait an average of 24 days to see a standard primary care physician. Why? Because a traditional primary care physician can see up to 40 patients per day for no more than 15 minutes at a time and have a patient panel of up to 4,000 people.
After waiting weeks for an appointment, you have some basic tests and screenings and then wait days or weeks for the findings to be submitted to an online portal. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to speak with a nurse over the phone about your results.
The concierge medical paradigm, on the other hand, places a greater emphasis on the patient’s experience and on building a direct relationship between patients and doctors.
Fees for membership
Concierge medicine is available as part of an annual subscription that can be paid in full or in installments throughout the year.
Concierge medicine is more expensive and requires a larger membership fee, whereas traditional primary care is more affordable because younger patients pay less than the elderly.
Payers from outside the company
Concierge medicine invoices patients in a traditional manner and accepts government programs and insurance policies, although traditional primary care practitioners do not take third-party compensation.
Concierge or direct primary care physicians often have a patient panel of no more than 500-600 patients. Every day, they see 6 to 10 patients and spend at least 30 minutes with each one. Patients can schedule same-day or next-day appointments, have easier access to sophisticated testing and screenings, and spend less time in the waiting room.
|Traditional Primary Care||Concierge Medicine|
|Patient Panel Size||2500-4,000||500-600|
|Patients Seen Per Day||30-40||6-10|
|Availability||On weekdays during business hours, some after-hours call or answering service guaranteed access to care 24/7/365||Guaranteed access to care 24/7/365|
|Schedules Booked weeks in advance same-day or next-day appointments available||Booked weeks in advance||Same-day or next-day appointments are available|
|Average Time With Each Patient||7-15 minutes||30 minutes|
Pros of Concierge Medicine
You’ve probably been frustrated after waiting weeks or even months to see a doctor only to be stuck in a waiting room for hours. According to a recent poll of physicians, the average wait time for a new doctor in the United States is 24 days.
- Enhanced access to a primary care physician.
Concierge medicine offers a change from conventional medical models where the patients are allowed to consult under the 15 minutes window.
Physicians tend to arrange fewer visits with their patients during the day and allow enough time for the visit. As a result, the patient can contact directly with physicians/healthcare providers without having to go through other employees. In general, this facilitates better interaction with the doctor and results in good patient care.
- Virtual correspondence eliminates the need for an unnecessary visit to the office.
When it comes to phone conversations and emails, they can occasionally save you a trip to the office. When it comes to small things, concierge services are often good at managing them that way.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, most practices have implemented telehealth, allowing you to see your own doctor from the comfort of your own home using a smartphone or computer.
Concierge services also save you time by resolving issues in-house rather than requiring you to travel to a professional.
- Preventive Treatment
In other healthcare models, the doctor treats the patient robotically and spends little time on their wellness and preventive treatment. Care is reactive in nature and focuses on treating the condition rather than digging up the fundamental cause. The concierge approach allows the physician to spend more time diving into the cause of your problems and assist you in achieving a better and more balanced lifestyle.
- Additional help for those who require it:
Patients with chronic illnesses, for example, who require easy accessibility to their doctor for assistance or to ease their stress, will benefit from it. Concierge medicine is based on unlimited physician access, whether over the phone or in person.
- Vast Range of Treatments
It provides patients with a wide choice of treatment options, resulting in enhanced long-term health and treatment flexibility.
- Unlimited Primary Care Services
Physicals and preventive screenings, which would normally be covered by a primary care visit, are already covered by the concierge service charge, so you won’t have to pay for each individual visit.
A concierge doctor may be more cost-effective in the long term for patients with chronic diseases like heart disease that require frequent visits. Major medical conditions, such as surgery, will, nonetheless, require insurance coverage.
The Cons of Concierge Medicine
- Concierge medicine, in a nutshell, is luxury medical care. Many people cannot afford it since it involves various out-of-pocket medical charges, such as retainer fees in addition to insurance premiums. Furthermore, fees differ depending on the region. It costs a lot of money to get direct access to your doctor.
- For some people, membership fees are unaffordable. There’s no way around it.
- Not a solution for all out-of-pocket expenses. For specialist consultations, medicines, and hospital trips, expect to pay the same out-of-pocket costs as you would with a regular primary care physician.
- While most concierge clinics accept insurance from a variety of carriers (for treatment, not the membership fee), some accept fewer carriers than a typical practice, and many do not accept Medicare or Tricare.
- While concierge medicine is becoming more popular, there’s still a risk that your local alternatives are limited, depending on where you reside.