Concierge medicine, also referred to as direct primary care, is a type of practice management.
The easiest way to explain what concierge medicine is will be to talk about how it differs from traditional practice models. Here are some of the major differences:
Payment: Patients pay a flat membership retainer fee in advance for medical services. According to Tom Blue, executive director of the American Academy of Private Physicians (AAPP), this fee ranges from $50 a month to $25,000 a year, with $135 to $150 per month being the national average.
Insurance: Blue estimates about 75% of concierge physicians take insurance, while the remaining have cash-only practices.
- An important note on insurance: Doctors must never charge a patient’s insurance company for services that are included in the patient’s concierge membership fee. Double billing (which means to charge for care submitted to the insurance company or Medicare in addition to charging the concierge fee) is considered healthcare fraud.
Patient panel: Doctors usually have 80% to 90% fewer patients under the concierge model compared to more traditional practices. The average concierge practice will have 500 to 1,000 total patients, according to Blue.
Physician access: This decrease in patient population allows concierge physicians to guarantee same-day or next-day appointments, 24/7 access, and longer examination times.
Additional perks: Many concierge physicians offer incentives, such as house calls, nutritional counseling, emergency room visits, and executive-level annual exams.
Concierge medicine doctors may choose to run their own practice or become affiliated with a physician network.
Pros and cons of concierge medicine
If you’re trying to decide whether the pros outweigh the cons for your practice, it’s important to have a clear grasp on what they are and how to determine whether or not they apply to you. Do you want to build stronger relationships with your patients? Are you tired of dealing with red tape? Are you overwhelmed by the number of patient appointments each day?
We’ll help you focus on the important aspects so you can make the most informed decision possible.
Pros of concierge medicine
The three primary benefits you’ll see when making the switch to concierge medicine are as follows:
- Concierge medicine gives you more time with your patients
- Concierge medicine means less overhead for your practice
- Concierge medicine lets you create a more personalized practice
Cons of concierge medicine
The three cons you’ll primarily see when making the switch to concierge medicine are as follows:
- You will lose patients when making the switch
- Your patients will have higher expectations about the care they receive
- It’s challenging to set the retainer fee correctly