Now that restrictions on medical visits are being lifted, you may eagerly await an eye-to-eye visit with your doctor where you can discuss everything from managing your diabetes and cholesterol to getting better sleep. The trouble is your primary care physician may be so rushed they can only address a few of your concerns–after all, even in the best of times, it can be hard to squeeze in all your health-related questions in a mere 15 minutes.
The truth is, unless you have lucked out with a conscientious physician, the traditional primary care system can seem like assembly-line medicine.
A more personalized approach
Luckily, a more consumer-directed experience is on the rise. For instance, a growing number of physicians offer Concierge Medicine, a healthcare model that emphasizes the doctor-patient relationship–not only do appointments start on time, they often last 30 to 60 minutes. Some doctors even make house calls to patients—an appealing feature if you plan to age in place. Not surprisingly, physicians who practice Concierge Medicine see 200 to 300 patients compared to traditional providers, who typically see about 1,200 to 1,900 people.
With this model, patients pay one flat fee for unlimited visits. Although some elite Concierge Medicine practices are geared to those in a high-income bracket, some practices, like SteadyMD, which has adopted a virtual medicine model, start at $99 per month. Typically though, fees range from $1500-$2000 per year. The annual charge at MDVIP, a national organization of affiliated physicians, with locations in Middle Tennessee, varies between $1,650 and $2,200. (The fee may be tax-deductible, according to the website.) The fee for TriStar Legacy Health, which also operates in the area, is a little lower, at $1,500. Another option in Middle Tennessee is Vanderbilt Executive Wellness And Concierge Medicine.
What Concierge Medicine offers
In addition to a complete medical history review and physical exam, Concierge Medicine practitioners deliver a broad range of options such as:
- Immunization assessments
- Screening and diagnostic tests
- Executive wellness laboratory panels
- Preventive cardiovascular tests
- Tests for cancer and inherited diseases
- Personalized health coaching
Some doctors facilitate scheduling with specialists, and some may even attend specialist visits with patients. In contrast, others may treat patients while they are traveling or on vacation. Another perk: Concierge Medicine doctors may provide 24-hour cell-phone access.
Higher rates of satisfaction
Concierge Medicine providers emphasize preventive care, an approach that may prevent costly medical problems from erupting–though there is no hard data to back that up that theory. It does appear, however, that Concierge Medicine patients are more satisfied with their healthcare. According to this AARP article, which cites a 2014 survey, about 90 percent of these patients are satisfied, compared with about 67 percent in traditional healthcare patients.
A final word: If you choose the Concierge Medicine route, opt for a doctor who is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine, and ideally has experience with geriatrics.