You've done your research and you love what concierge medicine has to offer. You know the next step is meeting with concierge care physicians so that you can find the right fit.
Here are five tips for conducting those all-important meet-and-greets.
1. Ask the doctor why he or she decided to transition to concierge medicine.
Concierge medicine is still the new kid on the block, so to speak. Yes, more and more doctors are making the leap, and all have their reasons for doing so.
Ask the concierge doctor about his or her journey, and see if what he or she says resonates with you and your reasons for considering this medical model. In addition, ask the doctor to share a recent patient success story that illustrates concierge medicine's effectiveness.
2. Go over the benefits list.
You can usually find this on the concierge practice's website, since the benefits of concierge medicine are a huge selling point. But you should clarify what each benefit means with your doctor.
For example, take the phrase "24/7 doctor access." Does that mean if you email your doctor with a non-urgent question at 3am that you should expect an immediate reply? Of course not. Doctors—whether they are concierge care physicians or traditional PCPs—need to sleep. (Doctors also get sick, take vacations, and attend their kids' soccer games.)
Review the benefits list with each doctor you meet with and ask him or her to expound a bit on each benefit so that you can understand how that particular office works. This is also a good time to ask whether the doctor makes house calls (not all concierge physicians are house call doctors) and what the protocol would be.
3. Discuss the fees.
You likely already have a sense of the concierge care physician's fees, but you should delve deeper during your meet-and-greet and discuss what the fees do and do not cover, just so that there aren't any surprises. Make sure you double check things like X-rays, bloodwork, and medications.
In addition, you want to make sure you understand the payment schedule (e.g. monthly, annual) as well as how the doctor's current patients typically handle services that the fees don't cover.
Concierge medicine is very much about creating a partnership between you and your doctor. So when you sit down for your meet-and-greet, it shouldn't be a one-way conversation where you ask all the questions and the doctor provides all the answers.
Listen to the questions the doctor poses to you and make note of your reaction to these questions. Did you find the questions sincere, caring, thoughtful, or did the questions feel too personal or too impersonal? There are no right or wrong answers here—only what's right for you.
5. Evaluate more than just the concierge care physician.
Sure, you want to "click" with your concierge MD. But you should also click with the overall concierge medical practice, including the staff, the office, even the parking.
The doctor's staff is a reflection of his or her personality for the long-term—not just one 20-minute meet-and greet. A pleasant, happy staff indicates an overall positive environment. Make sure the office is in a convenient location to your home since you'll likely be spending more time at the office than you would a traditional healthcare practice—and for good reason. Wellness visits are a hallmark of concierge care.
In addition to the actual meet-and-greet, you'll want check the concierge doctor's credentials, such as board certifications, hospital affiliation, and any disciplinary actions or malpractice lawsuits.
One final word: it's always important to listen to your gut, since our intuition rarely steers us wrong. Good luck on your journey!