“Concierge” doctor is a recent phrase in medicine but it refers to an old style of practice.
Before the age of advanced technology and smart phones, doctors had beepers and were part of our family. They made house calls and they loved us and we loved them. To this day, after running a major trauma center and practicing internal medicine and critical care for decades, I can assure you this is the best kind of doctor you can have. These doctors are your advocates; they supervise your care and make sure it is of high quality.
They are called concierge doctors these days because they don’t take insurance and they work directly with you. It is interesting to note that they are the only doctors in our broken system who actually work for you, the patient. All the others — those who take insurance — work for insurers, drug companies, and for the sake of job security, not for you.
How much you pay for the service depends on who the doctor is and how comprehensive the services included under the umbrella of concierge are. Most concierge practices have primary care physicians or internists and subspecialists — in case you need more specific care, you can get it inside the system. That is a good thing if the specialist is like your primary doctor and you feel taken care of. If you don’t, it could lead to undesirable outcomes.
So before you sign up for a concierge practice, make sure you know everything included. That also means access to your primary care physician 24/7 and their cell phone number so you can text or send pictures any time. It makes for an easier and more comfortable relationship and the outcome is invariably better.
Now understand you don’t need acute care by your concierge doctor. You need support, advice, validation, and most likely referrals to doctors you will trust indirectly because you trust your primary care doctor.
The need for concierge medicine is huge and it’s taking over the country like wildfire. I see the interest in my own practice — I am a concierge doctor — as I watch my patients become happier knowing I will make sure they don’t get lost in the morass of testing and electronic medical records our system has become.
Before you decide to choose a doctor to be your primary care physician or your concierge team leader, spend some time meeting with him or her at an interview appointment. It doesn’t have to be an hour. A few minutes will be enough to tell you if this is the doctor for you.
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