‘Membership medicine’ has advantages for physicians

Whatever name you use—membership medicine, direct care or concierge—the model is growing.

These practices, in which patients pay a monthly fee or annual retainer for a contracted bundle of services, have some real advantages for physicians, according to Medical Economics. One is far fewer patients. Typically, doctors with a membership practice see a panel of 600 patients rather than the usual 2,500 patients in a traditional practice, Jay Keese, executive director of the Direct Primary Care Coalition, told the publication.

Doctors can also spend less time on paperwork since they no longer accept insurance and more time focused on those patients. And they don’t have to participate in Medicare reimbursement programs established under the Medicare Access and Chip Reauthorization Act (MACRA).

Doctors said the model gets them off the “assembly line” and allows them to focus on patients, which was the reason they went into medicine in the first place.

Doctors who have made the transition see a good future for the practice model. “It’s the way of the future,” Vic Wood, D.O, a primary care doctor in West Virginia who opened a practice in 2003, told the publication. “This is the only way to decrease costs and increase quality. We handle 80% to 90% of what people need on a daily basis.”