Posted by: AtlasMD

July 9, 2013

Physicians Explore Their Decision To Practice Concierge Medicine

Back in May, Forbes reported that there were now approximately 4,400 physicians who were practicing concierge-style medicine. They define the term as “a form of primary care characterized by a retainer-style fee in return for enhanced access to physician care.” In an MD News article, Jennifer Webster questions what makes physicians decide to become concierge doctors, pondering if the trade-offs are worth it — for instance, things like handing out one’s personal cell phone number.

One trend we’re noticing is that the press is open about calling our healthcare model “flawed,” as Webster echoes in her article. She cites the commonplace impetus for joining the growing ranks of insurance-free medical practitioners, saying ”Often, physicians move to concierge medicine when they become dissatisfied with their own practices. For instance, they may feel they are not able to provide quality care in short office visits, yet cannot afford to jam fewer visits into the day.” We’ve been there, and can attest to this being less of a cliche, more of a truism of modern healthcare in America.

Check out Webster’s complete article. She mentions hybrid practices as a way to segue into an all-out direct care practice. We personally are not suggesting this move at the current time. We believe that it’s this “toe in the water” mentality that keeps the current “flawed” system in place. And it actually creates the situation we are ultimately working to displace, one where only those of privilege have access to superior primary care. Only as more practices adopt our type of direct care, can the “invisible hand” that Adam Smith made famous, exercise its influence on price (granted the government doesn’t interfere). More practices offering affordable care should in theory maintain a downward pressure on the price point. The idea being that if doctors don’t provide a service commensurate to their price, a patient may make the choice to get better care, at a better price. Of course, all of this will require more doctors, which is why we’re looking towards conservative groups on medical school campuses who also want free market principles in med school curriculum.

And as for the ethical issues of handing out a phone number to a patient, we think everyone might be overthinking it. Yes, anyone has the potential to be a stalker. There’s not a surefire way to tell, save any ostensible, uncomfortable social interactions. But we’re not going to fret about giving our mobile numbers to out patients. They came to us to be served, to allow us to help them take better care of themselves. Again, we’re not of the opinion that one bad apple should spoil a benefit to all our patients, and require regulating.

More Reading
“Concierge Medicine: So Many Questions” | MD News