Concierge medicine is a growing trend among primary care. For a basic fee that can be a modest several hundred dollars annually, or a hefty many thousands, patients can be part of a small practice, with quick access to their physician.
The payoff for the doctor is the ability to provide quality care to fewer patients while maintaining income and avoiding the hassle and expense of dealing with insurance carriers.
The Business Week article, “Is Concierge Medicine the Future of Health Care?” describes the trends, along with critiques and benefits. The article also warns of a growing deficit of providers and concerns about a two-class system that may be emerging; one for those who can pay extra and another for those who can’t or won’t.
As a recent MCNTalk posting described, this is one more area where outside investors appear interested and are investing, which I see as a red-flag. From a business standpoint, I can’t quite figure out why significant capital is required to design a concierge practice and thus, the interest of outside investors.
There would appear to be no barrier to entry for a physician wanting to start a concierge practice, just a decision to hang up one’s shingle and do a bit of marketing. Yet some groups, like Qliance have attracted millions of dollars of investments. How will these investors generate their payback on limited size practices with high costs to run?
Setting aside the financial structure, concierge practices offer value to practitioners frustrated with high patient loads, high hassle factor and declining professional satisfaction.
Patients like it because they get to engage meaningfully with a physician who is able to commit time and attention to their medical concerns and is quickly accessible. The trend can’t be ignored nor should it be. It is a creative approach to a problem and invites further study.