Independent physicians are experiencing burnout at increasing rates, primarily because of the burden of administrative reporting and regulations but also because of their increased patient load. At the same time, patients want a higher quality relationship with their physician. They want better access to their provider and they want their provider to take the time to listen to them.
The personalized service offered as part of the concierge practice model may be a tempting solution for many physicians, but there are some drawbacks. The ideal solution for both provider and patient may be the hybrid concierge practice.
The concierge practice relies on patient membership fees, which can range from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars a month. The concierge provider does not accept insurance payments and sees fewer patients, reducing the stress of billing and reimbursement and providing each patient with more time during the visit. Concierge physicians can give much more personal service to each patient, given the structure of the practice.
The hybrid concierge practice offers an alternative for the established physician who wants to provide concierge medicine but who does not want to lose current patients or the steady income generated by insurance payments. Hybrid practices provide patients with the option of switching to membership-based concierge medicine, while reassuring all current patients they can continue seeing the physician regardless of their payment models.
Dr. Cynthia Williams, a board-certified internal medicine physician practicing in Houston, says that she opted for the hybrid concierge model because it “can provide a solution for many of the issues affecting our current healthcare system, primarily: adequate reimbursement; recognition of the important role doctors play in patients’ health; and giving patients choices in the types of healthcare services they receive.”
In a hybrid concierge practice, all patients receive the same level of care; however, those who opt for the concierge service receive more time and convenience, particularly around scheduling and communicating with their physician outside the visit. As Dr. Williams states, the hybrid concierge practice model “makes the workday less stressful and more enjoyable, which is good for physicians, patients and staff.”