Direct Access, Private and Concierge Medcine
[Going Off the Grid with Boutique Practice and Retainer Medicine]
By Suzanne R. Dewey
I was going to leave medicine. Carpentry started to sound like a very good career option to me – Dr. Alan Sheff
In traditional primary care practices today, physicians typically have 2,500 – 3,500 or more active patients on their panels and see 20-25 patients each day in rapid 10 to 15 minute intervals. This kind of patient load makes it difficult for the primary care physician to effectively deliver care to those patients suffering with chronic illness or to address preventive measures.
Today’s medical system demands that physicians see increasingly greater numbers of patients per day. Subsequently, they are spending decreasing amounts of time with each patient resulting in declining patient satisfaction. Office-based physicians reported a weekly average of 73.7 office visits, 12.7 hospital visits and 11.1 telephone consultations. Primary care physicians averaged more encounters per week compared with other specialists. Harris Interactive reports: “The average time a doctor spends with a patient is down to 15 minutes or less and continues to diminish, putting enormous stress on both physicians and patients.
For the physician, choosing to deliver medicine in a concierge or direct access model, at a minimum, allows for longer appointments with patients to address concerns and focus on prevention. More time with the patient creates the ability to monitor wellness screens and to get to know the patient in a more robust manner.
For the patient, they can see their physician on his/her own terms and with a list of concerns and not feel rushed. They can see their physician on the same day they contact the office. Often they have the time to discuss specialist’s reports for better coordination of care and they can focus on prevention and maintaining wellness.
Participating physicians report more time to devote to patient care and advocacy, as well as continuing medical education and family life. The result is a revolution in preventative care and a return to a more personal relationship between doctor and patient.
According to a recent CNN report, concierge medicine was virtually unknown a decade ago; in 2005, there were approximately 500 physicians taking advantage of the practice model. In 2010, according to the Society of Innovative Medical Practice Design (www.simpd.org), there are 5,000 physicians practicing concierge medicine.
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Dictionary of Health Economics and Finance: http://www.springerpub.com/prod.aspx?prod_id=02549