Concierge Medicine + TeleMedicine = Way To Go!

More and more doctors are considering adding telemedicine and concierge medicine business models to increase revenue streams and improve patient services. Many are finding that educating patients about the benefits of telemedicine as a cost-effective, hassle-free care delivery model is the best approach to increasing adoption rates.

Armed with smartphones, patients can schedule a same day appointment for both minor and major conditions. Doctors find telemedicine provides opportunities to consult with peers and specialists in the cloud to make faster, more accurate decisions – sometimes life saving decisions, such as identifying signs of a stroke or imminent heart attacks during virtual patient encounters.

Why TeleMedicine?

Telemedicine allows patients access to faster appointments, often immediately or on the same day as the first request. Physicians can spend quality one-on-one time with patients and personalize health care without traveling to an office or clinic.

Doctors can now offer problem-focused visits for everything from a follow up for prescription renewals to highly complicated situations where a patient has multiple medical conditions and many providers. Virtual collaboration makes it more convenient to discuss potential drug contraindication with all providers using a secured digital platform.

Patients can reach their trusted physician from anywhere, anytime, even when they are traveling for business or vacation. There is no need to see another doctor if either is out of town. And, non-emergency issues – colds, dermatitis, ear pain, etc – can often be handled with a short virtual visit instead of waiting for an office visit.

Technology empowers physicians to monitor at-risk patients while giving patients more tools to control blood pressure, glucose levels and other health metrics from the comfort of their homes.

Telemedicine plus concierge medicine provide a dual solution. Patients can speak to and see a trusted doctor every time they have a problem. While virtual visits don't allow doctors to actually listen to the heart or lungs or take a throat swab, it is possible to make a well-informed decision about when to request the patient come in for a visit. Concierge medicine ensures patients have access to a trusted group of provider when an in-person visit is the best answer. The combination is convenient, affordable and provides continuity of care necessary to build patient confidence.

In 2016, more than 15 million Americans participated in remote health care services. The American Telemedicine Association says the numbers are growing. Telemedicine encounters is the wave of the future, and the future is now.

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Concierge Medicine – Is it For You?

The last time you called your doctor’s office, how long did you have to wait for a reply? How long do you usually have to wait to get an appointment or wait for a prescription to be called in? When you get to the office, how long do you spend in the waiting room and how much time does the doctor spend with you?

Did you get all your questions answered? How many seconds do you have in the beginning of your appointment to explain your symptoms before you are interrupted? Do the nurses and doctors seem to be more interested in their computers or their charts than they are to you?

If your experiences are like most people, your answers to these questions are not very flattering to the medical profession and to the health care system in general. Most doctors don’t really want their practices to be like this, but they don’t have much choice. They have to have a high volume of patients in order to make ends meet financially. The high volume makes the clinic a very busy place and most patients don’t feel like they get much attention.

In 1996 in Seattle, a doctor named Howard Moran thought there should be a better way to do this. He pioneered the concept of having a lower volume practice with highly attentive medical care provided as a service for patients in return for a retainer fee, much like many attorneys or accountants use. This fee may be in addition to, or in lieu of, the regular office fees that are billed to insurance companies. This concept allows the practice to remain financially solvent while providing better, more attentive medical service to its low volume of patients (usually keeping the patient count down to about one tenth of the number in a typical traditional primary care practice).

Unfortunately, health insurance companies currently don’t pay for this type of service, so that means the patients have to pay this out of pocket, but if the service is good, it may be worth it. Patients who join these practices are encouraged to keep their usual insurance which they will need for visits to other specialists, laboratory testing, radiological testing and/or hospital services if needed.

Many concierge practices offer same or next day appointments, no long waits for appointments or prescription refills, direct access to your personal physician day or night, house calls if necessary, continuing care if hospitalized, complete physical examinations, audiometry screening, cardiovascular and cancer risk screening, more attention to preventive care, unrushed appointments, all questions answered, family meetings if needed, coordination of care with specialists, provision of personal health records on CDs or flash drives, etc., etc.

Depending on the type and number of services that are provided, the flat retainer fee can vary widely from one area to the next ranging from $100 to $20,000/ year, most probably averaging around $1500-3000/year. There were only a few hundred of these physicians a few years ago, but there are …

Direct Primary Care and Concierge Medicine – What’s the Difference?

The Difference Between Concierge Medicine and Direct Primary Care

Direct primary care (DPC) is a term often linked to its companion in health care, ‘concierge medicine.’ Although the two terms are similar and belong to the same family, concierge medicine is a term that fully embraces or ‘includes’ many different health care delivery models, direct primary care being one of them.

Similarities

DPC practices, similar in philosophy to their concierge medicine lineage – bypass insurance and go for a more ‘direct’ financial relationship with patients and also provide comprehensive care and preventive services for an affordable fee. However, DPC is only one branch in the family tree of concierge medicine.

DPC, like concierge health care practices, remove many of the financial barriers to ‘accessing’ care whenever care is needed. There are no insurance co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance fees. DPC practices also do not typically accept insurance payments, thus avoiding the overhead and complexity of maintaining relationships with insurers, which can consume as much as $0.40 of each medical dollar spent (See Sources Below).

Differences

According to sources (see below) DPC is a ‘mass-market variant of concierge medicine, distinguished by its low prices.’ Simply stated, the biggest difference between ‘direct primary care’ and retainer based practices is that DPC takes a low, flat rate fee whereas omodels, (although plans may vary by practice) – usually charge an annual retainer fee and promise more ‘access’ to the doctor.

According to Concierge Medicine Today (MDNewsToday), the first official news outlet for this marketplace, both health care delivery models are providing affordable, cost-effective health care to thousands of patients across the U.S. MDNewsToday is also the only known organization that is officially tracking and collecting data on these practices and the physicians — including the precise number of concierge physicians and practices throughout the U.S.

“This primary care business model [direct primary care] gives these type of providers the time to deliver more personalized care to their patients and pursue a comprehensive medical home approach,” said Norm Wu, CEO of Qliance Medical Management based in Seattle, Washington. “One in which the provider’s incentives are fully aligned with the patient’s incentives.”

References and Sources

“Doc This Way!: Tech-Savvy Patients and Pros Work Up Healthcare 2.0”. New York Post. 4/7/2009.

Who Killed Marcus Welby? from Seattle’s The Stranger, 1/23/2008

“Direct Medical Practice – The Uninsured Solution to the Primary Medical Care Mess” with Dr. Garrison Bliss (Qliance Medical Group of WA).

“Direct Primary Care: A New Brew In Seattle”. Harvard Medical School – WebWeekly. 2008-03-03.

DPCare.org

Qliance.com

ConciergeMedicineToday.com

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