An alarming increment in the number of primary care doctors, driven by health commission and annoyance with insurance prerequisites, have brought a concept in the service industry which apparently is providing health facilities to the affluent population. Concierge medicine concept has been highly appreciated by the people having a hectic schedule and find an alternative to circumvent the bureaucracy, waiting for epoch and difficulties that may be an adjunct to while having an appointment with the doctor. Doctors too have joined the concierge medicine group to avoid stressed hours, lessen the workload and incompetent staff.
But what exactly is concierge medicine?
Concierge Medicine is an exclusive connection between a primary care physician and a patient where the doctors evade insurance companies to provide epitomized health facility to the patients at a flat fee which is charged annually or monthly. Concierge medicine is also known as boutique medicine, retainer-based medicine, or concierge healthcare. Here the physicians provide healthcare facilities to a limited number of patients a day. It benefits the patients in a way that they get same day appointment, no waiting times, hassle-free from insurance paperwork. The annual fees differ generally from $100 per month to $2500 annually.
Now let us have an overview of the good, bad and ugly side of concierge medicine.
Considering the goods to the doctors from the concierge medicine practice includes a healthy workplace environment, stress-free and hassle-free, can emotionally connect with the patients and develop a strong bond socially and mentally, and most importantly have space to enjoy personal commitments. The most important upsides of concierge practice are the limit to the patients per day which is attached with augmentation in pay. With no hurry, the doctors can pay heed to the problems of patients and can provide personalized care. Finally, there will be no delay in processing insurance papers as the limited number of patients file can be managed easily by the doctor.
On the patient's side, the goods include timely treatment which may reduce the infections or major side effects, and would however get custom-made care. With the fast-paced lifestyle, working couples need convenience to able to visit the doctor whenever required. Thus, the concept of boutique medicine is highly appreciated by the working class because there are no waiting times, same day appointments and hassle-free insurance paperwork.
Concierge medicine is really a magical formula for the affluent class who can afford to spend extra on the medicine. But will this concept work the same for the mid-income group? A study by the American Academy of Private Physicians claims that near about 5000 physicians practice concierge medicine today. This number is increasing day by day because of the alluring benefits causing an impact on the masses. The number of physicians providing general healthcare services to the oodles has decreased causing overburden of work pressure on the left out and thus impacting the quality of healthcare services.
The ugly effects of concierge medicine include risk of higher fees. Because of the shortage of physicians who attend the masses, they would charge exceptionally high fees which may not be affordable to the mid and low segment population. Thus they may strive to get the necessary treatment. Higher work-load and stress may affect the treatment of patients and thus may lead the patient’s life in jeopardy.
Thus, concierge medicine is an ethical issue which needs to be implemented equitably for all, where patients have the right to use basic health facilities at an affordable price.