January 8, 2014

Should Docs Consider Concierge Medicine?

Should Docs Consider Concierge Medicine?

While concierge medicine has been around for several years, the changes in the medical landscape have accelerated the thought process in the last 18 months. Many areas of the country have seen increases in the move to concierge practices. A thorough analysis of the patients, their likely willingness to pay for access to highly personalized service and the medical insurance landscape al enter into the decision on when and whether to consider this practice mode.

Today’s doctor-patient relationships are under pressure. Providers face financial demands from the government and payors, and many feel forced to squeeze as many patients as possible into each day in order to maintain their practice.

It’s unsurprising that new models of care are emerging that address physicians’ desires to spend more time with each patient. One such trend is concierge medicine. According to the American Academy of Private Physicians (AAPP), there were 4,400 concierge physicians in the U.S. in 2012, which represented a 30 percent increase over 2011. Forbes reported in January 2013 on a study that found 9.6 percent of practice owners planned switch to the concierge model in the next three years

Dr. L. Scott Grant, a primary care physician in Birmingham, MI, began his transition to the concierge model in March of 2012. At the time, his practice had over 3,000 patients, but his aim is to lower that number to around 500. Dr. Grant uses a three-tiered model where patients pay either $500, $1,000 or $2,500 annually based on their age and the services they elect. Dr. Grant says his income as been similar to or slightly higher than his pre-concierge income. “But I see fewer patients,” he explains. “I don’t have to work nearly as hard to make the same financial target.

Although each physician practice will differ, here are some basic assumptions to help you gauge how a transition to concierge medicine might affect your income. Assume:

  • Your practice today has 2,500 patients.
  • You transition to concierge medicine, and 20 percent of your existing patients join the concierge practice.
  • No new patients join the concierge practice.
  • You charge an annual membership fee of $1,500.
  • Your concierge practice accepts insurance. (More at Physicians News)

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