What is Concierge Medicine?
Concierge Medicine is the practice of medicine where the relationship between the physician and the patient is more direct, and in which the patient pays an annual fee or retainer. This may or may not be in addition to other charges. The benefits of Concierge Medicine include enhanced care, less or no wait time for care, and more direct access to the physician.
What is Direct Medicine?
Direct Primary Care, or Direct Medicine, is a subset of Concierge Medicine. Concierge Medicine typically is very localized (neighborhood based), and only available for the extra-wealthy. Direct Medicine, on the other hand, gives people access to the concierge level of primary care. This is accomplished through many different changes from traditional medicine:
- Eliminate the middleman – Many hospitals, urgent cares, and doctor’s offices spend a significant amount of human and actual capital on servicing insurance claims. By eliminating a secondary payer, direct primary care is able to eliminate the costs associated.
- Control Costs – Because they are not beholden to insurance companies, Direct Medicine doctors are able to control costs in a variety of ways. Eliminating unnecessary office visits (by using non-traditional diagnosis methods, as an example), eliminating unnecessary tests, and not paying additional administrative costs required to service these unnecessary services allow a direct medicine practitioner to reduce costs.
- Negotiated best rates – The above expenses apply to supplemental care providers, like MRI techs or blood test companies, as well. By providing them the same cost-eliminations, we are able to negotiate rates that are often 75% or less of their “rack rates.”
The Association of American Medical Colleges estimates that the United States faces a significant shortage of physicians by 2020; more than 91,500 doctors to be exact. Additionally, with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA more than 30 million Americans will have access to healthcare over the next decade. Due to these internal and external influencers, the total number of office visits to primary care physicians is projected to increase from 462 million in 2008 to 565 million in 2025. It is no wonder that the Physicians Foundation found that 9.6 percent of “practice owners” and 6.8 percent of all practices planned to convert to cash/concierge practices in the next three years.