Concierge Practices Finding Their Place in Healthcare

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Dr. Gayle Schrier Smith and has recently added an Online Learning Library to her concierge practice in Richmond, VA as a way for her patients to educate themselves more credibly than punching their symptoms into any search engine. This is among one of the many features covered by the monthly fee that patients pay to enjoy the benefits of the concierge practice. The fee is roughly equivalent to a monthly cable bill, and membership grants patients longer appointments, 12-hour phone availability, same-day sick appointments, Skype and email communication, and no wait for visits in addition to access to the Online Learning Library.

The fee is not covered by insurance. The services preformed by the doctor are still subject to network restrictions, regular copays, deductibles and co-pays.

Dr. Smith reports seeing only 8-15 patients per day as opposed to 5-8 patients per hour like the traditional practice, but says that this allows her to spend more time on patient education and allow longer visits. Concierge practices tend toward a much smaller patient volume, and usually cap out at 100-150 patients.

Dr. Edward Cullich, president of the American Academy of Concierge Pediatricians, is skeptic about a widespread interest in concierge practices, saying, “I don’t know exactly where it’s going to go. I don’t know if it’s going to explode to be the next big thing in health care. I personally doubt it. ... There’s only a certain amount of people that will be able to afford this type of thing or be willing to pay for it especially when insurance has gotten a lot more expensive and mandatory.”