I had the opportunity, today, to listen to a local physician talk about the changes he has seen in the way that medical care is being provided over the past 20 years. And while he might admit that some of the changes are good, he expressed sadness about the loss of a physician’s ability to really focus on the overall care and treatment of patients today. He referred to his preferred ‘sit down and really listen’ form of medical attention to the ‘Marcus Welby’ days and shared that this was what he aspired to when he went into medicine in the first place.
Today, most hospitals have ‘hospitalist’ who oversee treatment when a patient is admitted to the acute care setting. This cuts out the primary care physician who has developed, ideally, a long standing relationship with their patient and knows the details and particulars of the patient’s medical history. When you ignore, for lack of a better term, the doctor who knows the most about the patient, you are handicapping your ability to provide the best care!
It is this intimate knowledge of the patient that allows the best oversight of treatment.
Enter this physician’s reasons for providing what is called ‘Concierge Medicine’.
Concierge Medicine (also termed Direct Care) is a relationship between a patient and a primary care physician in which the patient pays an annual retainer or fee in order to receive ‘enhanced care’. For this physician, that means that his concierge members enjoy certain benefits: direct access to a dedicated pager 24 hours/day; direct phone line to the office with no voice mail; in most cases, a same day or next day appointment; guaranteed on time office visits or the office pays the patient; unhurried, 30-minute routine visits; see the doctor at each visit (not the physician’s assistant); and the doctor oversees and coordinates care during all hospital stays.
Concierge Medicine affords this physician the opportunity to provide medical care in his preferred ‘Marcus Welby’ fashion and allows his patients to receive prompt attention to their medical concerns.
While there are those who will tout the benefits of hospitalist, and I’m sure there are some, starting treatment from a point of ‘acute’ information only, is short sighted. Not only does a primary care physician know the medical history and clinical picture of the patient, but he/she will also be aware of the patient’s wishes regarding care and treatment which can be very important in caring for the geriatric population.
As I listened to the physician speak this morning, I thought, “Who wouldn’t want that?” At some point in my life, when my medical issues could become more significant, would I pay extra to have that? Don’t we all just want the best medical care that we can get?
Though the origins of concierge medicine trace back to 1996 and a doctor in Seattle, there has been recent growth in the industry. In 2012 there was a 25% increase in the number of physician’s providing this service over 2011. Are there more ‘Marcus Welby’ fans or is this being driven by the consumer?
And though lots of controversy may surround this practice, I believe it will continue to grow as folks seek to overcome the downsides to our current medical practice model.
Are you ready for boutique medicine?
On the journey with you…….Kathy
Kathy Eynon is an Eldercare Coach and Consultant who works with those struggling to cope with the demands of caring for an aging parent. She can be reached by email at: Kathy@ParentCareAlliance.com.