Sand Hill’s Chief Investment Officer, Brenda Vingiello, CFA, returned to CNBC’s Halftime Report on August 28, 2019 to discuss interest rates and the current stateread more
Concierge Medicine: Is an Ounce of Prevention Worth a Pound of Cure?
Over the past five years or so, there has been a trend in the medical profession that is gaining even more recent momentum and appeal. This trend – the growth in concierge medicine – may be directly linked to the innovation around DNA testing and specifically how to make better lifestyle choices given a discovery of a predisposition for certain illnesses. Through education and coaching from a licensed doctor and living a healthier lifestyle, perhaps you can alter or delay a diagnosis and health outcome.
Concierge medicine is similar to typical concierge services elsewhere, where the customer (that is, patient) pays a higher, fixed annual fee in exchange for more personalized and “high touch” or, in this case, more attentive medical care, plus better and easier access to their doctors. In return for the boutique approach and higher fees, doctors can carry reduced patient loads and thereby be more available to those they serve.
Concierge practices rely on a simple equation: more money for the doctor and smaller patient loads equals more time for each patient and potentially better outcomes. In the typical concierge experience for medicine, a primary-care doctor accepts insurance for routine services but also charges a non-reimbursable fee that pays for such things as 24/7 access to the doctor, same-day appointments, longer appointment times, and enhanced personalized attention. A recent study from the Journal of American Family Medicine indicates that common medical practices in both the United States and abroad often range in size from 1200 to 1900 patients per physician. In contrast, many private, or concierge-type, doctors have rosters of as few as 300 patients. Instead of rushing through 10-minute visits, private doctors can spend up to a half-hour or more with their patients. In fact, many private doctors offer extensive annual physicals that can last a few hours. Additional time means concierge doctors can focus more on education and prevention.
The essence of the approach in concierge medicine is to enable the physician to focus primary concern and attention on disease prevention, and to better manage health and wellness to optimal levels – and in cases of chronic diseases, be in a position to provide patients with greater therapy and more engaged strategies to help them live life to the fullest. What’s more, a recent study measuring the health impact of the concierge model found that patients had lower hospitalization rates and were better able to manage their conditions.
According to a recent study found in the American Journal of Managed Care, patients who embraced the concierge system had better overall health outcomes. The study showed 70% fewer hospital admissions when compared to patients in traditional primary care practices. Another study, published recently in the International Journal of Person Centered Medicine, found that the patients of the industry’s largest concierge network system, MDVIP, better managed their chronic conditions.
Of course, getting this type of improved direct care comes with a cost. Retainer fees, which are charged over and above what’s covered by health insurance, can run from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars per year. According to an article in Modern Healthcare, the leading healthcare business news and data service, fees for retainer-based care can run from $80 a month to as much as $25,000 a year, with most doctors, on average, charging around $100 a month. Insurance companies don’t currently pay for concierge services — the retainer fee is fully paid out-of-pocket.
In a world where people have to increasingly be their own health care advocates, it might be a welcome — and worthwhile — relief to have a concierge doctor who will take the time to explore every avenue of your health. The world continues to advance to greater health awareness and capabilities, and the concierge doctor may be a very valuable addition to your overall “life” improvement team.
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