While every physician's reason to move to a concierge medicine model is uniquely their own, there are some overarching themes that we've seen. Here are some of the reasons.
1. The concierge medicine model allows physicians to spend more time with patients.
It's no secret that traditional healthcare models are based on volume, meaning the more patients a doctor sees in a day, the better—at least for the practice. Primary care physicians often carry a caseload of 2000+ patients, an unwieldy number that results in shorter and shorter visits.
This approach doesn't sit well with many doctors and patients. Dr. Bruce Sokoloff recalls how his frustration prompted him to make the switch to concierge medicine. He says, "I became increasingly frustrated by time constraints and could see that in the traditional system, there was no way to achieve optimal health."
2. Longer patient visits mean better quality visits.
More isn't always better, but when it comes to doctor-patient visits, the more minutes a doctor can spend with his or her patient, the better. Why? Think about it. A five- or ten-minute visit isn't long enough to dive deep into serious and/or chronic health issues (e.g. diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, etc.).
Even for a wellness visit , a doctor and patient need more time to discuss strategies—what's working, what's not working, and next steps. Sitting back and having a conversation that flows naturally (and that doesn't feel rushed) is necessary in order for the doctor and patient to communicate effectively and build trust.
We're not suggesting that doctors in traditional healthcare practices are providing lower quality healthcare. Most of these doctors perform heroically and with due diligence under stressful time constraints. But imagine the care these doctors could provide if they only had more time to offer each patient.
Dr. David Perkins talks about how he recognized this fact and decided to make the switch: "With dwindling insurance coverage and increasing numbers of patients, the industry emphasis was becoming more about number of patient visits rather than quality of patient visits. It was steadily becoming less satisfying for both the patient and the physician."
3. With concierge medicine, paperwork "hell" is reduced dramatically.
Yes, there will always be paperwork, even if it takes on a virtual form (think electronic medical records). However, because concierge physicians don't need to deal with the overwhelming paperwork required by health insurance agencies, they can, once again, use this "free" time and give it back to their patients.
Dr. Frank Pettinelli, Jr. explains how this influenced his decision: "I saw what was happening in medicine. I was getting farther and farther away from what I was trained to do: treat people. I was spending more time supervising my employees, doing paperwork delegated by insurance companies, and practicing the business of medicine. I had read about concierge medicine and when the opportunity presented, I knew it was the right thing for me."
4. Concierge medicine celebrates the best of a bygone era.
In the "old days," meaning the early part of the twentieth century, house calls accounted for 40% of doctor-patient interactions. That number dropped to less than one percent by the 80s. Today, house call doctors are making a comeback, proving that patients appreciate and crave personal attention from their MDs.
Dr. Teresa Saris echoes this sentiment: "I spent many hours trying to find the right formula to maintain a high-quality office practice while being fiscally responsible. There are various options a physician can consider to protect their career, but I wanted to continue the service that I felt was more important—to protect quality healthcare. The concierge model allows me to practice the best medicine, the old-fashioned way, to those who value their healthcare."
Are you thinking about making the switch to concierge medicine? Here are the questions you should ask when interviewing concierge physicians.