FIVE BENEFITS OF CONCIERGE MEDICAL CARE
The phrase “concierge medicine” means different things at different practices, so it can be hard for a patient to know exactly what they’re getting into with a “concierge” practice. Here’s how we approach it: Caring for patients in a way that any physician or layperson would easily recognize as ethical, meticulous, scientifically informed, and compassionate. In other words, practicing medicine the way medicine is supposed to be practiced. And a big part of that, for us, is reporting directly to the patient, not to an insurance company.
The vast majority of our patients have health insurance, yet choose to upgrade. Why? There are five top reasons:
1. Time. The average American primary care physician has 2,500 patients. That allows 48 minutes to devote to each patient in an entire year. The average concierge physician has 300-600 patients, which works out to three to six hours—a lot better than 48 minutes but still not enough to properly follow a complex case if the need should arise. By contrast, at the Sheldon Sowell Center each physician is capped at an upper limit of 120 patients. That translates into 17 hours per patient—even with an entirely full practice! What do we do with that time? We answer your calls. We review your outside medical records. We consult with specialists. We read and research on your behalf. And sometimes we do something that most doctors never get to do: Think deeply, without distraction, about your care, which can lead to new insights and approaches. When you think about it, it’s amazing how effective thinking is!
2. Access. When your doctor isn’t required to see 20-30 patients a day she is available for your calls, emails, and text messages. All our patients have our cell and home numbers and we will communicate with you however you prefer. Visits start on time and take as long as needed. We don’t call our reception area a waiting room because we don’t keep people waiting.
3. Staff. You know the first person you see, the one who checks your blood pressure and shows you to an exam room? That’s usually a medical assistant, and while they have varying levels of education, some of them can have as little as nine months’ postsecondary work. At the Sheldon Sowell Center you’ll start with a Registered Nurse who has a bachelor of science degree in nursing, and then see your physician. And we don’t use cost-saving “physician extenders” such as nurse practitioners or physician assistants, who are undoubtedly lovely people and good at their jobs . . . but, to state the obvious, they’re not physicians.
4. Specialists. We’ve worked hard to develop our diagnostic skills, and sometimes that leads us to discover a condition that requires a specialist. When insurance controls referral relationships, you may wind up with the most convenient specialist rather than the best one. Because the best specialists are affiliated with many different hospitals all over the metro area, we devote considerable effort to curating and constantly updating our own panel of trusted specialists. And when we can’t find what we need locally we go national. We’ve used, for example, the Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, MD Anderson, Sloan-Kettering and UC San Francisco. Top specialists like hearing from us because they know that when they get our call, they’ll also get a thorough health history that helps them do their job, a commitment to coordinate care no matter how complex the case becomes—and a great patient who values quality work.
5. Comprehensive care. The three pillars of family medicine are acute care, chronic care, and prevention. Our program integrates the three. It starts with our Comprehensive Health Assessment, a two-to-four hour annual visit with your physician that provides ample time to address chronic conditions and preventive health in detail. And the in-depth understanding we gain from this evaluation provides the context to treat any acute health issues that arise with efficiency and precision.
So, what’s concierge medicine? Other practices can speak for themselves, but we think we have it figured out: It’s a doctor-patient relationship built from the ground up for convenience, access, high standards, and a deep commitment to your care.