What is concierge medicine, exactly? We've spent a lot of time on our site defining it, but we think it's important to go beyond the basic concierge medicine definition in order to fully appreciate what it is and how it can benefit you.
The best way to illustrate what concierge medicine is—and how it can benefit patients—is through examples.
One Saturday evening in February, you slip on your icy driveway and injure your right knee. It's swollen and warm to the touch, and you're having difficulty bending it. You're wondering if you should get an X-ray. Or maybe an MRI. But the last thing you want is to spend hours in the ER. Not to mention you probably shouldn't drive yourself and no one else is around. So you think about putting ice on it. Or maybe you should try heat. What's the rule again? Wait! Elevate it. Right? Maybe you should go online and check out WebMD and hope that you don't come away worrying that you have some rare disease on top of the injured knee. Oh, if only you could call your doctor!
Traditional vs. concierge medicine: In a traditional healthcare model, your doctor is probably not working a Saturday evening in February. You'd have to wait until his office opens on Monday or head to the ER. Neither option sounds appealing. And you're in a lot of pain.
With concierge medicine, you have access to your doctor after hours. Even on a Saturday night. You can pick up the phone and call your doctor on her cell phone (yes, really). If you don't get her live, you can rest assured that she regularly checks her messages and will call you back.
When you talk to her, you can tell her what happened. You could even do a video call with her or send her pics of your knee so she can see just how red and swollen it is. She'll be able to provide you guidance regarding the ice/heat/elevation questions you have. And depending on how serious your injury is, she might even make a house call to examine you herself. If she thinks you need an X-ray or MRI, she'll arrange everything for you, including transportation to the hospital if necessary.
You're three years away from fifty, and you've made a deal with yourself to get in the best shape, best health of your life before the big 5-0 strikes. You know you need some help in achieving this goal. OK, you need a lot of help. Like someone who can provide advice on nutrition. And help you devise a personal wellness plan (whatever that entails—you're not entirely sure). And cheer you on as you move forward (and even when you fall down).
Traditional vs. concierge medicine. We've all heard those caveats that accompany any new diet program or exercise regimen—the one that encourages you to "discuss" it with your doctor before you go any further. And you'd like to talk to your doctor, but the problem is she doesn't have any openings for six weeks. Not unless you're sick, and you're not—you're just eager to get going on a wellness path.
You ask if there's any way you can at least talk to the doctor sooner, even if it's via phone, and the receptionist says that another doctor in the practice could call you back tomorrow afternoon. So you wait by the phone so you don't miss his call. When he finally calls, you try explaining what you're planning, but you feel rushed for some reason. You ask only a fraction of the questions you originally had, because, well, this doctor doesn't really know you. You hang up feeling defeated.
With concierge medicine, wellness visits and preventive medicine are hallmarks of this model. The same doctor sees you for every visit, so he gets to know you inside and out. Visits are never rushed—they can last upwards to an hour. And same-day and next-day appointments are the norm, even for non-urgent care.
A concierge doctor doesn't just throw any wellness plan together and send you on your way, either. Because you're interested in making significant changes to your health over the long-term, your doctor needs to regularly monitor these changes. That might mean you meet monthly or even weekly in the beginning—and for no extra cost. This is covered in your annual fee. Plus, your doctor can coordinate any additional services you might need, such as a consultation with a nutritionist. Finally, you have a partner in your wellness, someone who is as committed to seeing you succeed as you are.
You’re a busy working mother with three rambunctious boys ages five, eight, and eleven. The eight-year-old has asthma, and the eleven-year-old is no stranger to emergency rooms, thanks to the three different sports he plays. Your mother-in-law, who is a spry 72, also lives with you. Your husband travels a lot for work. Managing everyone's individual healthcare needs is a daunting undertaking, one that makes your head spin. And that's when everyone is healthy. When someone in your family gets sick, that's when things become really unhinged.
Traditional vs. concierge medicine. Traditional medicine doesn't bend to your schedule; you need to bend towards it. This often requires taking personal days, kids missing school, and endless co-pays since the kids never seem to get sick at the same time.
Concierge medicine is all about convenience. Make appointments around your schedule. Book annual services, such as physicals, all on the same day—meaning everyone gets seen, including you, your spouse, the kids, and even your mother-in-law. And guess what? There's no co-pay since your family plan covers all of these visits. Got a sick kid at home and don't want to drag him and your other kids (who aren't sick—yet) to the doctor's office? No problem. Your concierge doctor "gets it" and can make a house call.
We hope these three scenarios helped demonstrate what concierge medicine is, how it differs from traditional medicine, and how it can affect you and your family.
But if you have questions, please don't hesitate to reach out.