Ms. Contreras is a patient at One Medical Group, a new model for primary care that aims to set a nationwide example. With 31 physicians in San Francisco and New York, it offers most of the same services provided by personalized “concierge” medical practices, but at a much lower price: $150 to $200 a year.
One Medical Group doctors see at most 16 patients a day; the nationwide average for primary-care physicians is 25. They welcome e-mail communication with patients, for no extra charge. Same-day appointments are routine. And unlike most concierge practices, One Medical accepts a variety of insurance plans, including Medicare.
Concierge medical practices are relatively new and they seem to be taking off in some areas of the U. S. Initially, the cost to be taken care of by a concierge doctor was somewhere between $1500 to $5000. In addition patient office visits would be covered by their private insurance. But now these member costs are much less or even nothing depending upon the concierge group of physicians.
For physicians the benefits are, fewer patients for them to take care of, which means more time to actually spend with each individual. In a concierge practice the physician is more available to his patient in person, by phone, and even by e-mail. In some instances he is actually on-call for them 24/7. Not a bad deal for the patient at least in my eyes.
In my own personal experience, I think this actually can reduce the number of calls a patient makes to his/her physician and it can definitely reduce his/her anxiety level.
A few years back, I had a cardiologist who surprisingly gave me his home phone number the very first time that I went to see him for a consultation. That experience made me feel very comfortable and completely at ease. It was the only time a physician ever offered such a service to me. I was somewhat overwhelmed and assured him that I would not abuse his offer to be available to me at his home.
The concierge medicine model could be a solution to some of our healthcare needs….it will not take care of the indigent this is true but it will give insured patients some new and different options.
Interestingly, I have a private practice as a clinical social worker and I offer e-mail contact, phone contact and Skype. Patients do not seem comfortable with this…they still want to visit an office and sit face to face which is understandable in some cases. But with today’s time constraints and transportation costs you would think people would want to explore more convenient options. At times I think that they are skeptical of such an offer. Perhaps more of a concierge practice model would be more appealing.
But maybe people are ready for “concierge” medicine but not quite ready for “concierge” therapy or “concierge” parenting support.
What do you think??