HOW TO CHOOSE A CONCIERGE PHYSICIAN – PART 3
This is the third of our three part series.
What’s your approach to annual exams?
Any concierge practice will offer an annual exam, but the exam is the least of it. Updating and organizing a medical history is much more time-consuming and, we would argue, even more important than giving a body a once-over. The medical record is the central document that informs all aspects of care. No exaggeration: the better the record, the better the care.
Here’s how we do it at the Sheldon Sowell Center: We set aside one morning each year for each patient’s annual Comprehensive Health Assessment. Your doctor prepares for it by reviewing the previous year’s visits and any medical issues that have come up. In our office you are immediately brought back by your Registered Nurse who will draw your (fasting) labs. Next, you are ushered into a comfortable sitting room where we serve breakfast. The breakfast serves two purposes. First, since you’ve been fasting, we want to take the edge off of your hunger so you can focus fully on the morning’s activity, not on your rumbling stomach. It’s also a chance to try some of the heart-healthy foods that we prepare fresh in our kitchen.
Then you and your physician take as much time as you need to discuss anything and everything you’d like to know about your health. THEN we conduct a comprehensive physical exam. After that you get back to your day and we get to work pulling it all together—the last year’s health events, current concerns, your exam, your labs—and create a detailed report providing a snapshot of your current health, a blueprint for managing your medical concerns, and guidance on prevention measures for the coming year.
Writing these reports is time-consuming, but it pushes us to achieve a deeper level of attention to your health than would be possible if we merely picked up the phone and rattled off a few results.
How about labs?
Some concierge practices send you out to a “draw station,” where you’ll wait your turn to have blood drawn. Others have a medical assistant do it in the office.
At the Sheldon Sowell Center your blood is drawn right in our office. It’s simple, it’s comfortable, it’s convenient.
How do you handle medical records?
Medical records are a back-office function that most patients don’t think much about. But a record that’s well organized, instantly accessible by those who need it—and inaccessible by those who don’t—can be a literal life-saver.
Many concierge practices use cloud-based medical records software, which are susceptible to outages. And if the medical records company were to go out of business, your doctor could be shut out of your record indefinitely.
At the The Sheldon Sowell Center for Health we write our own software so that it does precisely what we want it to do. We’ve reviewed plenty of off-the-shelf software packages and they’re made specifically with an insurance-based practice in mind.
While we do store encrypted backups in the cloud, we own, operate and manage our own backups in the office and keep physical off-site backups too.
Who owns the practice?
One national concierge medical franchise is actually owned by private equity firms and a sizable portion of the physicians’ earnings goes back to the company. Do the private equity guys have access to patient information? Do they sell or trade it? Private equity isn’t exactly known for accountability.
The Sheldon Sowell Center for Health is owned and operated by our physicians for our patients. End of story.
What’s with the upselling?
Some practices just can’t resist the temptation to squeeze a few extra dollars out of patients by offering cosmetic procedures, “anti-aging” products or “functional medicine.” You can usually recognize these practices because a section of their website is devoted to things you can buy from them.
At The Sheldon Sowell Center for Health we advocate for patients, not products. And we certainly don’t sell vitamins, hormones or cosmetics.
Who’s on call?
Some practices share on-call duties with outside physicians, meaning the person who takes your urgent after-hours call may not actually know you or have your medical records at hand.
At the Sheldon Sowell Center for Health our physicians—and only our physicians—are on call for you.
Our advice: put your needs first
This isn’t selfish, it’s just smart. If you’re looking for a concierge practice, it’s because high-quality, patient-first care is important to you. It had better be important to your doctor too!