With the continued review of the right mode of practice, the idea of concierge medicine is often intriguing. The need to get good financial projections and to understand the implications make the process an interesting one, but caution and good planning are the watchwords.
Multiple sessions at the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) scientific assembly informed attendees about the growing world of direct primary care, sometimes called concierge, boutique, or retainer-based medicine. These practices charge patients a monthly or annual membership fee for unlimited office access, and bill patients for the tests and supplies they use. When Doug Nunamaker, MD, and Josh Umbehr, MD, ended their 45-minute AAFP talk about their direct primary practice in Wichita, Kan., the two had barely walked off stage when they were besieged by a couple dozen doctors wanting more information.
Nunamaker and Umbehr opened Atlas MD, a direct primary care practice, in 2009 shortly after Umbehr left residency. They charge $50 a month in membership fees for adults ages 20 to 44, with fees ranging from $10 to $100 a month for pediatric and older patients. The practice quickly grew to about 600 patients in the first couple of years, with a monthly revenue of $30,000 in membership fees. The only marketing has been word of mouth.
They said patients loved the open access to their physicians. Patients are encouraged to email, call, or text their doctors with questions. The office has no office staff, and the physicians answer the phones, which they said "freaks out" patients at times.
The practice has added three physicians along with one full-time nurse and one part-time nurse. They said they now count 1,300 patients in their practice for $65,000 in monthly revenue from membership fees.
As for how patients access specialty services in the concierge system, Umbehr added that concierge doctors can work directly with specialists in their area, helping patients obtain services. For example, his practice is able to negotiate $900 colonoscopies and $225 head CT scans for their patients when appropriate. (MedPage Today)