Concierge medicine has come a long way from its controversial beginnings. The often insurance-free model may even become mainstream for certain populations in the coming years, predicted Forbes columnist Russ Alan Prince.
For physicians, the appeal is both philosophical and financial. Eliminating third-party payments vastly reduces hassles for the practice and its patients, while enabling the physicians to work solely for their patients, Gerald J. Gianoli, M.D., a neuro-otologist who practices concierge medicine in Louisiana, wrote in a recent column for the Wall Street Journal.
Gianoli transitioned his practice to the concierge model in 2005, well before the Affordable Care Act became law, he noted. "We were at first skeptical about leaving traditional fee-for-service medicine," he wrote. "But like most physicians who have taken this plunge, we discovered enormous demand for a practice that places patients--not Washington bureaucrats or corporate executives--at the center of decision-making."
But today, with the ACA and other factors putting downward pressure on physicians' incomes, adopting a new delivery approach can mean the difference between struggling to survive and becoming very wealthy, according to Forbes' Prince. However, "the physicians delivering care are not going to be the biggest economic winners," he wrote. "They will quite probably be significantly better off financially and more in control of their practices than otherwise, but they are not going to gain most of the financial rewards of concierge medicine, though they certain[ly] can--provided they run their practices well--become millionaires and even multi-millionaires."
As evidenced by Gianoli's example, the concierge model has successfully expanded past its origins in primary care. A recent article from News-Medical.net reported high satisfaction with the concierge model among physicians and patients within subspecialties such as cardiology, endocrinology, pulmonology and others.
"Those specialties where patients have a longitudinal relationship with their doctor to work on chronic problems are an ideal fit for the concierge model," cardiologist John R. Levinson, M.D., Ph.D., founder of the country's first concierge subspecialty practice, AllCare Medical LLC, in Boston, told News-Medical. "If you're the kind of cardiologist who helps patients work on chronic valve disease, coronary disease or other areas of preventive cardiology, a concierge practice vastly improves your ability to provide the very best care for each and every patient."