Written by Jeffrey Carr, Senior Vice President of WorldClinic
In the ever-evolving landscape of healthcare, concierge medicine has emerged as an increasingly popular personalized and patient-centric model of care. Selecting the right concierge medicine physician is crucial for individuals seeking, and able to afford, an elevated healthcare experience. Here’s an enhanced guide with eight key factors, including the importance of meeting with your physician in advance, understanding physician-patient ratios, evaluating the referral network, and incorporating key questions into your research.
Key questions when researching a concierge medicine physician
1. Services Offered
Assess the range of services provided. Do they align with your healthcare needs and preferences? Look for comprehensive preventive care, same-day appointments, immediate Telehealth access, and personalized health plans. If you have a family, consider a concierge physician who is board-certified in Concierge Family Medicine for those under 18. Additionally, check if they have additional physician specialties in their practice, such as Emergency Medicine or Internal Medicine, that you can benefit from.
2. Communication and Accessibility
Prioritize physicians who value clear and transparent communication. Schedule a 1:1 meeting before committing, as shared values matter. If the practice does not allow you to meet them in advance, that could be a strong indication or signal of things to come. Assess their accessibility, including response times, availability for appointments, and 24/7 availability, especially during travel and across different time zones. Meeting with the physician you are considering in advance allows you to understand their philosophy and allows them to get to know you.
3. Cost Transparency
Understand the pricing structure and ensure it fits your budget. Clarify what services are covered in the annual membership fee, and inquire about any additional costs for co-pays, labs, medical testing, and other health services. Don’t hesitate to ask questions.
4. Wellness Programs
Inquire about the wellness programs and initiatives you will receive, addressing coaching and longevity. Understand how they approach and deliver proactive preventive measures that contribute to your overall health and vitality, as opposed to reactively treating illnesses and injuries. Additionally, confirm how care coordination and episodic care are addressed.
5. Referral Network
When facing serious health issues or a new diagnosis, the quality of specialists and the referral network from the concierge physician matter. Evaluate their professional connections and existing relationships in orthopedics, neurology, oncology, GYN, dermatology, cardiovascular care, and other key specialties. Ensuring a reliable network with reputable specialists and compatibility with your insurance plan is crucial. I highly recommend meeting your prospective concierge physician before joining their practice to better understand their referral patterns and relationships. Consider their outcomes and how they measure quality when making referrals. Do they have existing relationships or privileges with top health systems across the US and locally? Or do they tend to refer to friends and colleagues from medical school? If they’re part of a larger organization, they may face internal pressures and colleagues who encourage keeping referrals ‘in-house.’ All this matters, especially when faced with serious health issues and the need for the highest quality care in the market.
6. Technology Integration
Assess the use of technology for appointments, enrollment, health records, and communication via your smartphone. A tech-savvy practice will prioritize and incorporate remote patient monitoring, concierge medicine trends and telemedicine to enhance convenience and efficiency.
7. Reviews and Testimonials
Read reviews and testimonials from current or past patients to gain valuable insights into the physician’s practice. If the physician has no reviews, ratings, or testimonials after researching, ask for them. Alternatively, inquire with your friends, neighbors, and colleagues about the reputation of the practice you are considering. Similar to how you would be less likely to pursue and buy a house if pictures or photos were not found, the same could be said for a physician with no headshot, reviews, and recent online testimonials.
8. The Importance of Ratios
Patient-to-physician ratios, often overlooked by consumers, hold the key to understanding the dynamics of concierge practices. From non-concierge practices using more nurse practitioners to membership models with varying physician specialties and physician-to-patient ratios, the landscape is diverse. The importance lies in comprehending these ratios, as they directly impact your access, cost, and the levels of care provided.
Remember, choosing a concierge medicine physician is a personal decision. By carefully considering these factors, including meeting with the physician in advance, evaluating their referral network, and incorporating your detailed questions from advanced research, you can better find a concierge healthcare provider who aligns with your medical needs, values, and preferences.
About the author
Jeffrey Carr, an accomplished healthcare expert, helped launch and operationalize one of the largest health system concierge models in the US. Currently serving as the Senior Vice President of WorldClinic, the country’s only Telehealth concierge practice, Carr brings a wealth of healthcare experience, including expertise in consumer trends, employer collaboration, hospital operations, mental health initiatives, accreditation processes, and physician collaboration to the market.