I can't count the number of times I have said those words to one of my patients, but this time was different. Now one of my patients was saying the same thing to me.
I run a busy cardiology practice with patients ranging in age from 55-80. I don't just see patients for consults-a large percentage of my patients are dealing with more complex health issues and see me for routine healthcare services as well.
This integrative approach is important to my patients and good for comprehensive care that emphasizes their cardiac health. But it also left me stretched beyond capacity. I needed to find a better way. In today's era of physician shortages, I felt it was important for my patients and profession to find an approach to healthcare that kept me engaged and practicing medicine.
"Why aren't you going concierge?" one of my patients asked.
Concierge care has been popular in my area for quite some time. But could a cardiologist offer a membership model of care? Turns out you can, but there are some points to consider.
Ask yourself if your patients share these common bonds:
- Want to be active and involved in their healthcare
- Value the one-on-one time and expertise you can offer
- Have complex healthcare needs that require more than the standard 10-minute office visit of today
You'll also need to consider how such a move will impact your practice including your partners, staff and all patients. I worked with an experienced management company to help me explore these issues and ensure that the move would be as smooth and seamless as possible for my patients and practice. That's an important step and one you need to carefully analyze and consider.
What I like about this model is that it reflects the kind of medicine I practiced when I first started out-when I had the time to get to know my patients. As a concierge physician, I am able to:
- Take more time to explore other issues they may be experiencing-not just the immediate problem
- Coordinate with other specialists on their behalf
- Assist with scheduling tests and ensure they receive their results promptly
- Provide greater coaching and support on nutrition and lifestyle choices as it relates to their heart health
After just a few months into the program, how is it going? If my patients are an indicator, very well. Many have told me how much more relaxed I look. I am glad they see how much better I feel.
Daniel Wohlgelernter, MD, FACC - affectionately known as "Dr. Dan" by his patients - is a partner in Cardiology Consultants in Santa Monica, CA. Concierge Choice Physicians created the practice model for him. He earned his medical degree from the Yale University School of Medicine. He trained in cardiology at Yale, and served on the Yale medical school faculty before joining the UCLA faculty in 1985.
For advertising info on HealthNewsDigest.com contact Mike McCurdy at 877-634-9180 or email [email protected]