By Andrew Bonner
Frustration with America’s healthcare system is reaching new heights. Although much of the attention is focused on private insurance and government efforts to change it, doctors are experiencing their fair share of irritation with the way things work.
The overwhelming bureaucracy that doctors and their offices encounter when dealing with the administrative burdens of running a volume-driven practice can sap their time with patients, to say nothing of their motivation and demeanor. It can seem as if they spend hours filling out paperwork for just the few minutes they spend treating patients.
These are just some of the reasons concierge medicine is gaining popularity among many practices in the United States. This model bypasses many of the bureaucratic headaches that doctor’s offices experience in the typical setup, so physicians can devote more of their attention to the people they treat.
Although this might seem like a radical departure from the way doctors conduct their business, the truth is that concierge medicine is much closer to the way healthcare was delivered a long time ago, in the days before regulation and red tape made everything so tedious. Read on to learn more about how the concierge medicine model works.
What Is Concierge Medicine?
In the simplest terms, concierge medicine is a structure in which patients pay to become members of the practice.
Following this model allows concierge physicians to take on fewer patients, which allows them to spend more time with each individual. In many cases, the reduction in paperwork and administrative labor opens the door for a doctor to provide value-added services such as house calls, counselling or more comprehensive exams.
How Does Concierge Medicine Benefit Doctors and Patients?
The most obvious advantage this structure provides is reducing the burden on physicians and their staff members. Without the mountains of paperwork, caregivers are free to allocate their working hours to more important pursuits. They can spend hours talking directly with their patients, instead of mere minutes. This gives them the ability to develop a real rapport with the people they serve and deliver more personalized care.
Another critical benefit for all involved is a significant reduction in burnout. Because they don’t need to cram dozens of appointments into their schedules every day, doctors can slow down and focus on each person they see as individuals. This can improve the quality of care that patients receive, as well as their overall satisfaction. Professionals also report feeling less stressed and more satisfied in their work.
Despite the many advantages that concierge medicine can bring to a medical office, many professionals are reluctant to embrace it because of some common misconceptions. For example, they may believe that this system is only available for those who treat affluent patients. However, the national average for a subscription is between $135 and $150 per month — well within the range of affordability for most people.
Another frequent concern of healthcare professionals is that switching to this model means their practices will earn less. On the contrary, providers who work under the concierge structure typically earn the same as other physicians. The key difference — according to those who have made the change — is a less stressful, more rewarding experience.
Is Concierge Medicine Right for Everyone?
While doctors who treat people under a primary care relationship — such as family practitioners and internists — are typically the most natural fit, cardiologists, endocrinologists, rheumatologists and OBGYN physicians — are also increasingly making successful switches to the concierge model.
Taking all of this into consideration, healthcare providers should take a long look into the many advantages of the concierge medicine model before changing practice models. Doing so could mean a substantial improvement in the quality of care they provide and the well-being and satisfaction of their patients.
AUTHOR BIO: Andrew Bonner is Director of Marketing at Specialdocs Consultants. Bonner has over 15 years of marketing experience in the healthcare industry. Prior to joining Specialdocs, he served as Marketing Director for two mid-sized physician groups, driving significant growth through successful lead acquisition, customer engagement and ad creation/placement strategies. Bonner is committed to improving the professional and personal lives of physicians ready to make the transition to the Specialdocs concierge model.