Concierge Medicine Today | POSITION STATEMENT | FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact: Michael Tetreault, Editor-in-Chief | Editor@ConciergeMedicineToday.com
CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD PDF Version of This Statement As A Reference/Educational Tool …
April 29th, 2021
Concierge Medicine Industry Leadership Share Their Opinions On the Critical Protocols and Best Practices Related to Resourcing and Distribution of COVID-19 Vaccine.
“Sometimes exactly what these Doctors and practices do, the public relations and messaging elements often fall in the category of ‘Totally Misunderstood,’” said Michael Tetreault, Editor-In-Chief of Concierge Medicine Today, “The Concierge Medicine Physician is … purposefully more communicative and intentional about blending customer service techniques and social graces into the rhythm of his/her daily medical practice environment which in turn, creates a unique bond between Physician and Patient. As a PSA, here’s some of the industry’s FAQs and experts sharing and telling you their stories.”
ATLANTA, GA USA – As vaccine distribution takes center stage, a few news reports have put Concierge Medicine under a microscope. These, less than a dozen media reports, often times do not tell the whole story about an industry niche in healthcare called Concierge Medicine which is patient-centered and relational at its core.
Today in the world of healthcare, there are few things as polarizing to Patients and consumers of a local healthcare community as a Doctor who answers his/her phone on the first ring or texts us back. Conversely, millions of people each day are routinely asked to schedule a follow-up appointment in weeks for something they know can be handled over the phone in minutes. When people encounter a medical team that smiles back at them or doesn’t make them wait 61 minutes, as was the case of one mother of three who visited an urgent care clinic in April 20th, 2021 outside Atlanta, GA.
“It’s much easier to make a point than to make a difference,” said Catherine Sykes, Publisher and CEO of Concierge Medicine Today, the healthcare news and educational publication for the space. “This small, patient-centered subscription-based healthcare delivery model niche in healthcare is operating in a compliant manner, minus the reports we’ve all seen that occurred in less than a half-a-dozen individual offices, according to our sources. We see Concierge Medicine Physician’s at-large, following the appropriate federal and state guidelines with relationship to vaccine distribution. We also continue to observe these Doctors spending an inordinate amount of time talking to their Patients both virtually and in-person in order to help their communities and serve their Patients all while navigating the complexities and inconveniences of the Pandemic.”
According to a BMJ Quality Improvement Report published on May 6, 2020 entitled Losing the wait: improving patient cycle time in primary care … Inefficient clinic systems leading to prolonged wait times at primary care clinics are a source of frustration for patients, physicians, staff and administration. Measuring and shortening cycle time has the potential to improve patient experience, staff satisfaction and patient access by moving more patients through in a shorter cycle time. Limited studies have demonstrated that improvements can be made to cycle time and may result in improved patient satisfaction. Most of these studies have focused their efforts on improving efficiency at the front end of the cycle.
“Technology should not isolate any of us, but it has and continues to do so,” adds Sykes. “We’re all experiencing healthcare and life differently these past few months. This uniquely different medical community of caring, compassionate, personalized and subscription-based business model medical offices are finding new ways to learn, adapt and stay connected to each and every Patient.”
“Sometimes exactly what these Doctors and practices do, the public relations and messaging elements often fall in the category of ‘Totally Misunderstood,’” said Michael Tetreault, Editor-In-Chief of Concierge Medicine Today, “So, here’s some of the industry’s FAQs and experts sharing and telling you their stories.”
Friendly Reminders About Compliant Engagement and What’s Needed For Appropriate COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution In Concierge Medicine
Mass inoculation against COVID-19 has begun in our communities, and large-scale and urgent vaccine distribution is now an imperative across the globe.
For example, starting Sunday, April 18, 2021 the Mercedes-Benz Community Vaccination Center in Atlanta, GA will offer walk-up vaccinations daily without an appointment for first or second doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, they said.
As Concierge Medicine Physician leaders well understand, even though their business model is one of servanthood and caring, they forfeit the right to make excuses which allow the loudest voices and/or deepest pocketbooks to dictate their care and treatment and/or vaccine distribution guidelines.
“As a company we have been very clear that we expect unwavering compliance from our partners and that we fully support both state and local public health policies for the ethical distribution and utilization of testing and administration of vaccines,” said Dr. Dean P. McElwain, President and CEO at Castle Connolly Private Health Partners LLC.
“Private direct practice are designed to quickly coordinate and deliver all care services (whether that’s Covid testing and vaccination, or other healthcare services),” says attorney Jim Eischen, Esq., of Eischen Law Office based in San Diego, CA. “That does not equate to anyone jumping a vaccination line. It just means all services delivered by high-connection practice models occur more quickly than other models. I think that’s cause for praise rather than criticism, and suggests that there is more to learn from how private direct care functions so well.”
According to Kaiser Health News, all states have met President Joe Biden’s revised goal to open access to the covid vaccines for any adult by April 19.
“Once vaccines were available, like all primary care physicians around the country, doctors in the Specialdocs network were stymied by the decision to relegate them to a minor role in the rollout in favor of hospital systems, pharmacies, grocery stores and mass vaccination sites,” said Terry Bauer, Specialdocs CEO. “For concierge physicians, fielding numerous patient requests for the vaccine from their trusted doctor, the inability to serve was a source of real frustration. While some Specialdocs affiliates were eventually able to administer vaccines to patients, in strict adherence with federal, state and local guidelines, many were not. However, these dedicated professionals and their staff continuously communicated with their patients as to where they could find vaccination sites and offered assistance to those having trouble understanding the sometimes-confusing online registration process. Every message sent to members invariably included the strongest possible encouragement to reach out, call, ask for help – underscoring the concierge physician’s mission as their patients’ fiercest advocates.”
“Every Doctor should be treated with dignity, reverence and respect by a Patient, colleague or employer,” adds Sykes. “No Patient or individual(s), regardless of status or income should be asking for special treatment or requests from any [Concierge] Physician.”
“During the pandemic and continuing each and every day since, the Specialdocs network of physicians worked tirelessly, strategically and caringly to serve their patients,” adds Bauer. “They embraced and integrated best in class technology within 48 hours of the national lock down to offer virtual visits, though many offices remained open for in person patient visits after successfully scrambling for PPE from anywhere they could find it. These Special Docs proactively communicated and engaged with their patient members constantly through email, newsfeeds, newsletters, website updates, video messages, text and phone calls. Validated, curated, and credible information was provided on a timely basis to ease anxiety, share knowledge and coordinate the best care possible. National infectious disease and vaccine experts were made available to patients through Town Hall style Zoom Meetings and recordings. Psychologists, nutritionists, and physical therapists were also present on video to offer education, health strategies and support.”
What Is Concierge Medicine?
Oversimplified, Concierge Medicine is a personalized, compliant, subscription-based healthcare delivery business model in which the Patient pays an annual fee. More specifically, the Concierge Medicine Physician is purposefully more communicative and intentional about blending customer service techniques and social graces into the daily rhythm of his/her medical practice environment that bonds the Physician and Patient.
MDVIP, the market leader in personalized healthcare with a network of more than 1,100 primary care physicians across the country who care for more than 350,000 patients philosophy is to help primary care physicians provide life-changing personalized preventive care so patients can lead healthier and more vibrant lives.
Longeviti Health, a company which delivers end-to-end personalized care conversion services brings new meaning to the phrase “personalized medicine.” Longeviti describes “personalized medicine” as actively engaging with your health … [and] through a partnership with a trusted physician, help guide patients towards lifestyle choices designed to optimize their health and minimize or prevent the onset of disease.
“Concierge Medicine Physician’s understand that encouragement is priceless,” said Tetreault. “Everyone deserves a more personalized healthcare experience. This is one of the most important challenges for every Doctor and healthcare worker entering an exam room today. Physicians and experts say Concierge Medicine is one healthcare delivery model vehicle of many today that provides a lifeline for Physicians suffering with career burnout and desire to serve their communities for many years to come.”
Fundamentally, Concierge Medicine is a form of a subscription or membership in which doctors provide a list of specific services not covered by Medicare or the Patients insurance and which generally foster a closer relationship between Physician and Patient which days, weeks and months later builds stronger communication between the two individuals and creates a more satisfied Doctor and Patient relationship in the end. Visits typically last 45-90 minutes or as long as it takes to address their needs and questions, according to Concierge Medicine Today. In exchange for this more personalized approach to patient communication, the Concierge Doctor receives a subscription fee (most fees average between $125-$285/mo. Source: ConciergeMedicineToday.com) which enables them to increase the amount of time they spend with Patients. To be clear, industry experts and sources emphasize it’s not about access. Nor is it meant as a replacement for or in lieu thereof, an individual’s health insurance.
“Private direct medicine’s contribution to US healthcare includes the establishment that ongoing routine care exams supported by more immediate communication connection just plain works,” added Eischen, Esq. “I am very happy to see Medicare and other plans incorporating more care coordination and pre-condition care connection—that’s the right direction for US healthcare.”
More specifically, the Concierge Medicine Physician is purposefully more communicative and intentional about blending customer service techniques and social graces into the daily rhythm of his/her medical practice environment that bonds the Physician and Patient.
~Concierge Medicine Today, Editor-In-Chief, Michael Tetreault | May 2021
The Tension, Conscience and Ethics Debate
“I’m well aware of the tension that exists in healthcare when confronted with two of healthcare’s unique words, ‘Concierge Medicine,’” said Tetreault. “Where we might not find common ground in terminology or the issue of what’s fair or unfair, we can all agree that our communities need more Physicians in our lives leaning in and becoming a memorable figurehead in our life. When they are allowed to practice in this way, they become invaluable to us all. That is what I see is truly remarkable about Concierge Medicine and worthy of remarking to others about. These are great Doctor’s who are constantly innovating. They’re learning the social graces (e.g. kindness and creating a better way or a closer relationship with a Doctor) necessary to compete for the trust and friendship of their Patients now and in the future. They understand that a Patient who feels appreciated, will always do more than is expected. And the data is proving this out to be true as the years go by [See citations 10, 11, 12, 13, 16, 17, 18, 19]. We’re simply here to share their stories and make sure others know about what great things they’re doing in this space as well.”
“Now more than ever, private direct practice models (whether branded “concierge” or “DPC” or some other brand” have diverse price structures aimed at all income levels and ages,” says Eischen. “Healthcare professionals gravitate to private direct medicine to engage in innovative care models detached from plan restrictions, and design their practice models to serve their desired patient constituency. Nearly all of my clients have patient fee affordability in mind, and offer options aimed at more moderate income levels.”
Present Day Accomplishments and Contributions to Healthcare As A Whole
“Concierge Medicine has become the conscience [an inner feeling or voice viewed as acting as a guide to the rightness or wrongness of one’s behavior …] by which many Physicians in healthcare today routinely measure their own personal career satisfaction in medicine,” adds Tetreault.
Fast forward to present day and just a few weeks later, positive press and news stories about Concierge Medicine abound. Headlines, feature stories and press releases are now unpacking their innovation, spotlighting Physicians, functional and integrative medicine techniques, their personalized attentiveness to senior care, expertise in genomics, precision medicine and even new openings in local communities.
Examples include but are not limited to:
- In a press release dated April 29, 2021 … New research from MDVIP shows that its personalized and preventive approach to primary care helps reduce the incidence of cardiovascular events in at-risk patients. The study, published in the Journal of Community Medicine and Public Health, found a statistically significant 12 percent decrease in heart attacks and strokes combined among Medicare patients enrolled in the MDVIP membership-based model compared to those in the general population. Considering more than 1.5 million heart attacks and strokes occur every year in the U.S., a 12 percent reduction would equate to 180,000 fewer of these life-threatening events.
- ChenMed, one of the nation’s leading primary care providers, in February 2021, announced its VaxTheNationcommunity service goal to vaccinate at least 50,000 at-risk elderly before Mother’s Day, having safely administered more than 10,000 COVID-19 vaccines during the past two weeks at more than 75 Chen, Dedicated, and JenCare Senior Medical Centers in 10 states. ChenMed brands include Chen Senior Medical Center, Dedicated Senior Medical Center, and JenCare Senior Medical Center. ChenMed brings concierge-style medicine — and better health outcomes — to the neediest populations. ChenMed is a privately owned medical, management and technology company. A provider of choice for some 20 Medicare Advantage health insurance plans, ChenMed is one of Fortune Magazine’s 2020 “Change the World” companies “taking on society’s unsolved problems – and boosting their business as a result.”
- On March 12, 2021 and article published in Medical Economics, Dean McElwain, co-founder, president & CEO of Castle Connolly Private Health Partners wrote … A new survey of over 3,500 independent medical practices tells us what physicians in our Castle Connolly Private Health Partners (CCPHP) network have been telling us throughout 2020—the membership model has been instrumental to keeping their doors open during the pandemic.
- On March 16, 2021 in a press release, MDVIP, the market leader in personalized healthcare with a network of over 1,100 primary care physicians nationwide, was honored by Fortune and Great Place to Work® as one of the 2021 Best Workplaces in Healthcare & Biopharma™. MDVIP is among 25 small & medium healthcare employers honored around the country and is the only national primary care network to earn a spot on this year’s list.
- In March 2021, Forward Health, a San Francisco technology-forward primary health clinic, announced in a press release that they raised $225 million in Series D funding. The funding will help rapidly expand Forward Health’s healthcare system nationwide with several new locations slated to open in the first half of 2021. Forward Health will also use the funds to introduce new doctor-led programs focused on heart health, cancer detection, COVID-19, stress, anxiety, and weight management.
- In a press release written Thursday, April 15, 2021 at 9:55am, SignatureMD, one of the nation’s largest firms providing conversion and ongoing support services to concierge physicians, added another 11 physicians to its growing national network.
- In a press release on June 20, 2020, Specialdocs Consultants cites that In the Wake of COVID-19, Specialdocs Reports Rapid Growth in Its Network of Independent Concierge Physician Practices
“The data supporting Patient Burnout and lack of likeability and trust with a Doctor today is growing, and the Patient Survey data during the Pandemic has only made this divide between Patient and Physician deeper and wider,” adds Tetreault. “We all know that when the Doctor becomes more personable, he/she becomes memorable. That’s a keystone in Concierge Medicine.”
What is the wise thing to do?
“Caring is what Concierge Medicine Physicians do every day,” adds Tetreault. “There’s always going to be a tension that exists in healthcare when it centers around what’s fair and what’s unfair. The fact is other healthcare systems around the world are trying to be fair and they already know that it is impossible to be fair. So the challenge for Physicians is to give up on fairness and get engaged. This new rule of engagement is being applied inside a small niche in healthcare today called Concierge Medicine. It’s in essence, a marriage of the Hippocractic Oath and the Golden Rule … in healthcare. That new approach to Patient engagement may make some people uncomfortable and believe me, I get it.”
“Time and time again over the course of the pandemic we have heard from 1,000’s of our members that the membership relationship they have has been invaluable,” adds Dr. Dean P. McElwain. “That relationship is built around trust, personal connectivity, convenience, and collaboration, not on the concept or expectation of unethical or preferential access to either testing or vaccination.”
History of Concierge Medicine (1996-Present)
“Unique and positive changes in healthcare today are often modeled in Concierge Medicine by Physician’s who are marrying the Hippocratic Oath with the Golden Rule,” said Tetreault. “We’re all experiencing uncertainty, communication difficulties with our healthcare provider(s) offices and people have a lot of questions. Life looks a lot different this year and may for the foreseeable future. However, no Patient, regardless of status or income should be asking for special requests from any Physician. The Physician’s in this unique, relationship-centered space are working hard to calm the fear and uncertainty and questions so many of us have. We observe Concierge Medicine Physician’s following the appropriate guidelines with relationship to vaccine distribution. We also see them spending an inordinate amount of time talking to their Patients both virtually and in-person in order to help their communities and Patients navigate this Pandemic. These are great Doctor’s who are constantly innovating and our communities are a better place because of their servant leadership.”
What should be recognized when talking about Concierge Medicine?
“Within this version of medicine are the seeds of the future,” added Eischen, Esq.
Due to the pressure to serve every Patient, healthcare workers everywhere find themselves making a lot of decisions. Those decisions should not be centered around a people-pleasing brand of decision-making.
“Concierge Medicine has become the conscience [an inner feeling or voice viewed as acting as a guide to the rightness or wrongness of one’s behavior …] by which many Physicians in healthcare today routinely measure their own personal career satisfaction in medicine,” concludes Tetreault.
“In order to prevent doing harm in medical practices, we need to decrease the number of patients that each doctor cares for daily to give him/her the time to adequately address the patients needs, be able to critically think about each clinical situation, and coordinate care with other practitioners if needed,” says one Concierge Medicine Physician from Connecticut. “It’s not “fair” to Patients to rush them in-and-out of the office, merely treating symptoms without getting to the root cause of their complaints. Building a trusting relationship with patients is at the core of what concierge doctors do on a daily basis. I’m hopeful that every young physician sees a future in which they can practice high-level medical care, achieve a work-life balance, and form a bond with their patients that will last a lifetime.”
“There has never been a better time to be a physician or patient of a concierge medicine practice,” adds Bauer. “During this very difficult period, over 16,000 medical practices in the United States had to close their doors permanently, with another 8,000 more expected to do so in the next twelve months. Each and every one of the Specialdocs affiliated practices was able to remain open and resilient, sustain and in most cases enhance their services. The ability to unfailingly provide optimal care and comfort during one of the worst health crises the world has ever seen continues to inspire a profound sense of gratitude among our doctors, along with a renewed appreciation for the indisputable value of concierge medicine.”
In January of 2021 at Physicians Practice®, Keith Elgart, Chief Operating Officer at Concierge Choice Physicians wrote a statement in a piece he authored in which he wrote … The crisis has illuminated this need, and membership in concierge programs is growing and will continue to grow. The key in 2021 is finding the membership model that will complement your overall practice and support your patients.”
In conclusion, Concierge Medicine Physicians lead by example.
They’re some of healthcare’s brightest, most personable and remarkable servant-leaders in medicine today. They truly understand that the more personable you are towards your patients and community, the meaningful you [the Concierge Medicine Physician] will become.