Total Access Medical - Direct Primary Care Blog

Medical Concierge & "Royal Pains" - What's Real & What's Fiction?

Posted by Richard Stamps on Feb 02, 2015

Confession: we're fans of Royal Pains. It's funny. It's smart. It's touching. But it's also a TV show, which means you can't necessarily trust it.

Here's the original trailer, in case you're not familiar with the TV show.

Does a medical concierge business, as depicted on Royal Pains, really work that way? Where does the truth end and fiction begin? Here's what you need to know.

1. Cost: Given the TV show's location (the Hamptons), it would be easy to think that concierge care is only available to the rich. While you can certainly find pricey medical concierge practices, most cost a lot less than you're probably imagining.

Infact, Concierge Medicine Today says that "over 62% of the fees touted by direct-pay or concierge medicine doctors cost patients less than $135 per month."

2. Clientele: The show depicts U.S. "royalty" (i.e. the ultra-rich and famous) receiving these concierge services. But the truth is, the majority of people participating in concierge care today are upper middle class "with typical household earnings between $125,000 and $250,000 a year," according to this CNN Money article. Concierge Medicine Today reports that the combined annual household income of 34% of concierge patients is under $100,000.

medical-concierge-reality-mythYes, people who participate in concierge care have the means to do so, but they are far from ridiculously wealthy as the television series suggests.

Another gripe: Too often on the TV show, we see someone call for a "one-off" treatment (and usually in some dramatic fashion). This, of course, makes sense for the show thanks to its episodic structure (it would be boring if we saw the same patients week after week). But that's not how concierge care works, at least not beyond a Hollywood studio's film lot.

A concierge practice's clientele understands how the model works. Members know the benefits they'll receive, including regular access to their doctor, longer doctor visits, same-day appointments, and many other standard benefits.

3. Career choice: On Royal Pains, Dr. Hank Lawson was a reluctant practitioner of concierge medicine, at least in the beginning. In real life, doctors make the transition to concierge care because they see the value in this medical model. No one is forcing them.

That doesn't mean it's easy or it's the right fit for every physician. But those who make the transition do so for specific reasons.

For example, listen to one of TAM's doctors, Daphne Goldberg, explain how she came to concierge medicine.


Bottom line? As with all things in life, don't believe everything you read or hear, especially when it's packaged in the form of a television show or movie. Enjoy Royal Pains for what it is—light-hearted entertainment. But when it comes to understanding concierge medicine, make sure you dig deeper.


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Topics: Concierge Medicine, Dr. Daphne Goldberg

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