It is no surprise to practicing physicians that the healthcare landscape is becoming more and more unpredictable. Because of the volatility surrounding today’s healthcare environment, such as increasing overhead costs and decreasing reimbursement rates, many physicians are asking themselves whether there is a different, more lucrative way to practice medicine. Concierge medicine may just be the answer some physicians are looking for.
Before embarking on the concierge medicine journey, a physician should understand the basics of what concierge medicine is, what makes it different from traditional practices and the potential issues to avoid when setting up a concierge practice.
What Is Concierge Medicine?
Concierge medicine, often called retainer or boutique medicine, is an alternative medicine practice model that permits physicians to charge patients a designated amount of money, or a retainer, for certain services. This model often allows physicians more flexibility regarding who they can treat and when. It may also give physicians the ability to focus on a more holistic, preventative approach to medicine. They can see patients throughout the year, rather than just for an annual checkup.
Different types of concierge medicine exist, and variation exists within them. The more common types of concierge medicine include:
- Standalone or full concierge model. This type of practice is limited to a select group of patients who pay a retainer or membership fee to obtain personalized concierge services. These practices often require a large retainer and have a small patient population, with the promise of physicians devoting ample time and specialized care to the patient panel. Insurance is customarily not billed by this type of practice.
- Direct pay concierge model. Under this model, a practice offers a limited menu of services for a flat fee. A patient can pay the flat fee and then receive any of the services on the menu applicable to that patient and their health conditions or concerns.
- Fee for extra care concierge model. Under this type of arrangement, a practice will bill insurance for covered services. The practice, however, will offer extra services not usually covered by insurance and charge the patient directly for these specific services.
- Hybrid concierge model. A hybrid concierge model is when a practice provides both traditional and concierge medicine services. Some patients may see a physician in the traditional setting. Others, however, can choose to pay a retainer and obtain more personalized concierge services.
What Issues Does Concierge Medicine Pose?
Because of the number of concierge medicine models and the complexities surrounding each type, physicians must be aware of numerous potential issues when setting up their practice. These include: