What is Concierge Medicine?

What is Concierge Medicine?

The Healthcare Mess

Doctors and patients are expressing great dissatisfaction with the medical care system. Patients are dismayed by delays in obtaining appointments, visits that start late, unreturned phone calls, harried office staff, obstacles in obtaining prescriptions, and hurried doctor visits that don’t fully address their concerns. Patients feel their medical needs are ignored as doctors rarely have time to counsel them or answer important medical and health questions. Increasingly, patients are attended to not by doctors but by nurse practitioners or physician assistants, where visits are disorganized, impersonal “factory assembly lines” during which no one appears to actually know the patient’s name or provide “old-fashioned“ personalized care.

Why is this happening?

Reimbursements for primary care services by managed care, Medicare and Medicaid are rapidly declining while internists, family physicians and primary care physicians are faced with concurrent mountains of new non-paid administrative tasks. Things have reached a tipping point where primary care doctors are concluding that their practices are not economically viable unless they see a large volume of patients for brief 5-7 minute office visits. These visits leave little or no time for complex medical problems, counseling about preventative strategies and careful examination, diagnosis and treatment. As a result, the number of physicians selecting internal medicine or family medicine careers dropped 27% between 2002 and 2007. The problem is exacerbated by a shortage of physicians that is expected to reach 124,000-159,000 physicians by 2025. This does not include another 25% projected shortfall on account of the passage of universal healthcare coverage. The projected growth of the U.S. 65+ age group through 2025 will be 4 or 5 times the growth of the number of physicians during the same time period.

The Concierge Medicine Solution

In 1996, Seattle doctor Howard Moran concluded that the only way he could provide high-quality medical care was to attend fewer patients each day. He asked his patients to pay an annual "retainer" fee in exchange for highly focused, individualized medical care. Concierge medicine was born. Concierge medicine is an intensified, patient focused relationship between a doctor and his or her patient wherein the patient pays an affordable fee for improved access and high-quality individualized medical care. This personalized medicine is as affordable as a cell phone or cable TV. Concierge medicine returns to the old days of medical practice where the doctor-patient relationship was most important while providing the modern miracles of advanced medical care.

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