Can Concierge Medicine become the Future of Medicine?

Can Concierge Medicine become the Future of Medicine?

Have you ever wished for a little more time during regular doctor’s appointments? Perhaps, you wanted to email your doctor or physician a question after standard hours. If so, you will be happy to know that an increasing number of doctors in the US are now providing additional access to various added health services. Most people tend to get frustrated and annoyed by short and impersonal visits to their primary care doctors.

We can say that this conveyer-belt approach to healthcare is losing popularity. This is because physicians are under pressure to increase patient volume while keeping their medical practices profitable. There is no doubt that the COVID-19 health crisis has forced many people to adapt to a new and different lifestyle. And the coronavirus pandemic has also considerably impacted the US healthcare industry.

For example, many medical institutions and healthcare facilities have had to quickly evolve their patient-centered care approaches and adapt to new and improved care delivery models, such as remote patient monitoring.

In the modern healthcare landscape, concierge medicine has the potential to be the future of medicine. Many experts agree that the existing healthcare system in the country is not working well. This is because soaring healthcare costs have not led to better care outcomes. And doctors and other health professionals are more overwhelmed than ever while patients feel that no one listens to them.

The benefit of concierge medicine is that doctors provide patients with additional health services when patients pay a fee. These services are in addition to what a patient’s insurance pays.

Patients can avail the service on a monthly, quarterly, or yearly basis by paying directly to their doctor for various personalized care options whenever they need it. There is no doubt that concierge medicine is becoming more appealing and attractive to physicians and patients.

What is Concierge Medicine?

Concierge medicine (also called “retainer” or “boutique medicine”) is where physicians or doctors provide more personalized and attentive medical care than most people usually experience in the conventional healthcare system in the US. In other words, concierge medicine is a private form of medical practice where doctors and physicians charge their patients an out-of-pocket retainer fee and provide full access to all their healthcare services.

It is worth noting that in a recent survey of more than 860 independent physicians, almost half stated they are considering this better and alternative method of medical practice management.

In addition to that, a survey of over 20,000 physicians conducted by Merritt Hawkins revealed that more than 20% of physicians say that they are currently practicing concierge medicine or intend to practice it in the future.

One of the best things about the concierge medicine model is that it commits physicians to a limited roster of patients. This means they can spend more time with each patient, getting to know them better.

Note that at a concierge practice, patients always have access to the same doctor. Patients will also have better access to their physicians, for example, through phone and email as well as in person.

The Importance of Concierge Medicine in the Future of US Healthcare

Here are some reasons why doctors or physicians are considering switching to the popular concierge medicine model and why it could be the future of medicine.

Viable Alternative to the Conventional Model

Did you know that concierge medicine has now become a go-to alternative for many patients seeking personalized medicine? This is especially true during these unprecedented times as no one wants to risk exposure to the coronavirus. It is worth noting that the pandemic has caused many physicians in the US to explore the concierge model.

One of the best things about this model is that it reprioritizes the doctor-patient relationship. Did you know that patients, tired and frustrated with the status quo, are now flocking to this new model?

Better Health Outcomes

According to several studies on concierge medical practices, concierge medicine often results in better patient outcomes. Keep in mind that patients using a concierge practice tend to have considerably lower rates of ER visits and lower rates of both inpatient hospital admissions and hospital readmissions, which is encouraging.

You should know that the differences are pretty striking; for example, patients in a concierge practice have a 97 percent lower rate of readmission to the hospital following a heart attack.

Lowers the Risk of Physician Burnout

You may know that physician burnout, loss of a sense of professional efficacy, and depersonalization are still prevalent in the US healthcare community. Keep in mind that 73 percent of doctors have considered quitting medicine because of feelings of burnout.

However, you will be happy to know that the physician-empowered focus and attention that define concierge medicine can make a huge difference and is a thrilling change of heart.

In a recent survey of physician satisfaction with the customer-centered concierge model, over 80% of doctors described their professional morale and satisfaction as very positive, virtually all saying that they would choose medicine as a career again.

Cost Saving for Patients

According to a study, 2300 patients in a single concierge medical practice saved an impressive $3.7 million in unnecessary healthcare expenses over two years. This is another reason why concierge medicine can become the future of medicine.

This is because, in most concierge practices, less money is wasted on one-size-fits-all medical treatments that do not work or even create side effects. Instead, more time is spent on finding the best solutions that will help patients get and stay well.

Physicians Benefit from Fewer Patients

As you can see, one of the primary upsides to concierge medical practice is the considerable decrease in the number of patients. For example, a concierge doctor might have 300 patients.

On the other hand, a doctor in a conventional medical practice may have 4,000. Note that the doctor with the 300 patients is on retainer and also has predictable revenue. And it makes a lot of financial sense for many doctors, and this model will continue to proliferate.

What to Expect in the Future?

We can say that concierge medicine will likely become far diverse in 2021. You will be happy to know that the stereotypical image of a concierge doctor who is located in an affluent metropolitan area is also changing dramatically.

Keep in mind that the first wave of revolutionary concierge physicians is retiring after a fruitful and long career. Also, younger physicians who might be currently employed by healthcare systems or seeking opportunities in new locations are now actively recruited in order to take over the reins of their medical practice.

Also, note that changing the face of modern concierge medicine in the US are women physicians. They represent an increasing number of new and successful medical practice transformations.

Software Supporting Concierge Medical Practices

If you are transitioning to concierge healthcare, it is a great time to re-evaluate your workflows as well as invest in new or better health IT tools. Here are some types of applications that will help optimize concierge model operations.

Electronic Health Records

While every physician or doctor would benefit considerably from digitizing all their patient records, note that concierge practices have many unique incentives and benefits of going paperless. For example, EHRs make it simpler to document your patients’ condition over time, enabling you to provide them with comprehensive and detailed clinical documentation.

As patients pay for more personalized service under this model and expect better access to this documentation, you should invest in an electronic system in order to meet these patient expectations.

Medical Billing Software

You may know that medical billing software is essential for your practice as it automates the collection process for your office. Note that some solutions are perfect for concierge practices as they provide several helpful functionalities, including generating pre-collection letters and running a report in order to calculate outstanding balances. You can streamline the billing procedures at your concierge medical practice by using a medical billing company, such as UControlBilling.

Final Thoughts

Research shows that concierge medicine can be an excellent option for physicians and doctors who are ready for a change of pace because of the smaller patient panel as well as reduced reliance on insurance reimbursements. As technology progresses, it is likely that medical practices will shift to the concierge model.

However, keep some things in mind while you are making the final decision regarding the future of your medical practice. For example, there are several ways you can offer concierge care in the US. It is essential to consider all the options (such as full vs. hybrid models, network-affiliated vs. independent) and then choose what is best for you.

It is sensible to check out new software platforms and tools. For example, for a smoother and more seamless transition, you should consider practice management or EHR systems that meet and even exceed concierge medical practice needs.