Concierge medicine is often thought of as a service available only for the rich or appropriate only for the chronically ill. Concierge physicians provide personal service, sometimes to the extent of traveling to a patient’s vacation site for a medical emergency. Patients who have chronic conditions are attracted to the concept of concierge medicine primarily for the comfort of knowing their primary care physician will manage their specialty visits, possibly even accompanying them to those physicians’ offices, and will help them navigate an often complex healthcare system.
However, concierge medicine can also benefit those patients who are generally healthy. The concierge physician is able to get to know patients well and can be more focused on proactive measures designed to keep those patients healthy. Daniel Carlin, M.D., CEO of WorldClinic and author of The World of Concierge Medicine, makes the point that “Proactively taking steps to live a long life without illness is referred to as longevity planning. Unfortunately, longevity planning is not characteristic of the traditional healthcare system but is embraced by many concierge medical practices.”
Concierge medicine is a relatively new concept, having begun in the late 1990s. The birth of the concierge concept is attributed to a Seattle doctor who “decided to ask his patients to pay a flat fee—or retainer—in exchange for what he called ‘highly attentive medicine.’ This allowed him to not have to rely on fees-for-service that were regulated by insurance companies.”
Today, as the practice of concierge medicine grows, it is a concept appropriate for most patients. Whether chronically ill or basically healthy, the concierge patient receives personal attention from the primary care physician who is available for that patient virtually 24/7. Patients enjoy reduced wait times at the doctor’s office and access to the physician before and after the visit, either through communications channels or additional in-person visits. Beckoning to the days of the physician who made house calls, concierge patients enjoy personalized services for a high level of quality healthcare.