Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Concierge Medicine - What's Old is New Again!


Have you heard the term concierge medicine?
It refers to a "new concept" sometimes called direct care or the negatively named boutique medicine.  But let me describe how concierge medicine is defined:

  • enhanced patient care
  • each doctor has between 100 and 1,000 patients (as opposed to 3,000 +) patients
  • the doctor is available through phone or email throughout the day or night
Now, doesn't this remind you of that old wive's tale of doctors who would make house calls?  In fact, concierge medicine is considered a new concept because of the personal relationship that concierge doctors have with their patients.  
Imagine the concept of a doctor recognizing you and the concept of the doctor treating you as an individual, not one of the 50 patients they see per day.  
Imagine where a doctor would come to you when you were in need of medical care, rather than having to sit in a waiting room with 30 other sick people.  
Imagine not having to go through line after line, waiting to check in, waiting to get to your physician's office, waiting to pay the cashier, waiting to schedule another appointment for your next yearly check up.

Now, not all concierge doctors are the same, just as not all modern doctors are the same.  Some concierge doctors charge an annual fee to belong to their practice.  Some fees are higher than others.
Some concierge doctor's have different policies.  All of this varies with the individual doctor.  Imagine that, expecting the doctor to treat you like and individual and then treating him like one also!

I am a little bias.  We are so fortunate that our current doctor practices this new fangled medicine.  Except, she has been making house calls since she left Nazi Germany as a child.  So, really the idea of concierge medicine isn't really new - it is really old.  But, either way, I am glad it is making a comeback.

Now, please don't misunderstand - concierge doctors do not take the place of surgeons or specialists.  Some still have an office with office hours.  I see concierge doctors as people who see their job as a calling.  Not all concierge doctors answer their own phones, but they do answer their pages. 
This concept is so much better than hearing a recording that the office is closed 18 hours out of the day.  How many of us are lucky enough to require a doctor between 9 am and 12 pm and the 1 pm to 4 pm?

Yes, there are critics of the concierge system who claim concierge medicine is only for the rich people.  This argument seems ridiculous to me -- yes, there will always be a level of things that not everyone can afford. But, if some people are willing to devote their finances to what they feel is important to them, how can this be wrong?  Just don't sign up with a concierge doctor if this is the case.  But, trying to stop the concept seems spiteful to me.

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