Concierge Medicine: Bringing Medicine Back to its Roots

In the past, your doctor was your neighbor, your friend and you would possibly frequent dinners together. You could call and he or she would come to your house, check out the medical concern and provide treatment. As medicine advanced, patients were forced to come to the physician clinic and beyond the long wait times, visits were limited to fifteen minutes. This evolution was multi-faceted due to advances in technology, larger equipment, financial constraints, and time management. Doctors became busier and busier and there was less time for house calls. Today, the medical clinic is more like hoarding cattle or sheep than it is a fellow neighbor willing to lend a caring hand. Where did medicine lose its compassion? Do you even know your doctor or provider? It’s time to bring back compassion and have an actual relationship with your physician. Concierge medicine brings back the wholesomeness medicine once held while keeping the technological advances that have developed over time.

Before we get into concierge medicine, we have to discuss where medicine took a turn toward corporation and financial numbers rather than quality healthcare, empathy, and personalization. As advances were made in medicine, technology was developed for better imaging. Tests were developed for earlier diagnoses. Then panels of professionals decided which of these advances would become standard of care. The standard of medical care dictated the minimum recommendations a physician should comply with for each and every patient based on sex and age. Not to mention, it became a requirement to store medical records electronically. These added demands on physicians required additional space and money. Doctors needed office space to have the equipment to perform these tests. They also needed computers to access and use electronic medical records. Next, medical insurance companies started to decrease payments to physicians in a way to control costs for the patients. Although, they required these same physicians to offer standard tests and imaging. The costs, equipment, staffing needs, and low reimbursements brought medicine out of the home and strictly into the office setting. Due to financial restrictions and increasing patient loads, clinics started rushing patients in and out in timed short visits. There were many moving components that drove medicine into cold, impersonal clinic settings. But now, after time and technology have settled, why can’t medicine go back to being personalized and patient-centered?

Technology has advanced so much that there are now mobile imaging and lab units. Prescriptions can be shipped to the homes. Electronic medical record software has become more affordable. Wholesome medicine, more patient-centered, personalized, compassionate care is possible again. Yes, these services may come for a slight out of pocket fee, but the gain of a Physician who knows you, sees you each visit and is available via phone, email and even video at all times can be priceless.

Concierge medicine offers an attentive physician at your finger-tips. No long wait times. No waiting rooms echoing with sounds of cough and sniffles. Imagine seeing a physician the same day you need, not at the next available appointment in two months. There are many benefits of a concierge physician as your doctor. To name a few, no wait times, longer visits, more personalization, visit with the doctor not ancillary staff, and preventative care not reactive care. The other great news is that concierge physicians offer the same services as you would receive in a medical office or urgent care. Some even offer more concierge services such as IV therapy and cosmetic procedures. It is still important to do your homework. Make sure your concierge doctor graduated from an allopathic or osteopathic medical school and hold the titles of MD or DO. It is also recommended that these physicians be certified by the American Board or American Osteopathic Board. You can ask the Physician to show his or her credentials or even look up their credentials online. A concierge physician is still a doctor and must hold the regulatory boards and certifications of such.

Concierge physicians have proven to offer quality care that patients are happy with. A survey by AARP determined that over ninety percent of patients who use concierge type medical services are satisfied with their medical care. That survey also concluded that ninety seven percent of patients using a concierge doctor felt that their physician took a personal interest in them and their health. Only sixty- seven percent of patients were happy with their general practitioner in a typical office setting. The purpose of this article is not to blame the physicians with busy medical practices or those who work for larger systems. There are time constraints and corporate policies in place that limit their allotment of time. In this case, the system needs to be changed whether corporate America agrees or not. Concierge medicine is an attempt at that, to take medicine back to its roots.

Occasionally, things need to go back to the beginning. In medicine, that time is now. House-calls are on a rise and concierge medical practice participation is increasing every day. Patients deserve a physician that is available and can see them urgently not just with advanced notice. Patients deserve to have communication with the doctor when they have questions or concerns. Patients should have a personalized medical care plan and participate in the decision making. Above all, patients should be a part of the medical team and not just a number. Not the next sheep herding through the door. Consider a concierge physician for your general medical and preventative care needs. Bring medicine back to its roots.