Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Professional Freedom Beckons

I have now received three amazing solicitations from MDVIP. This is the Boca Raton corporation that will set a doctor up to do concierge, retainer medicine. The letters invite me to join a few exceptional physicians who seek "professional freedom, personal freedom and financial freedom". One invite came in a bottle with sand and seashells inside, inviting me and my guest to all expense paid trip to Florida. This week, I am invited to California and they will feed me and my guest, treat us to museum exhibits and pay me an honorarium.

The invitations are sexy, appealing and seem to be coming at a rapid clip. MDVIP is one of a handful of companies that know primary care physicians are in demand and they know patients are fed up with the long waits, quick visits and difficulty in even seeing the doctor. They know the doctor is burned out, disgusted with the hassles of insurance paperwork and discount rates. The dream of caring for the patient has turned into the nightmare of patient "panels" of 2500 people.

The solution? The patient pays a retainer ($200-1500/month) and the physician limits her practice and is available to see the patient and spend more time with each patient. Prompt phone calls and email communication is part of the deal. Usually the retainer fee covers the primary care visit also so there is no insurance billing or hassle. Labs, referrals to specialists, Xrays, hospitalization and procedures are usually not included. For those services, the patient's regular insurance applies.

Concierge medicine is taking off in Urban areas where affluent patients meet up with frustrated physicians. MDVIP helps the doctor make the transition into the new mode of practice. They take a cut and everyone is happy.

I get it. I understand it. I have many friends and colleagues who are now concierge physicians and they are rested, happy, fulfilled and off the treadmill.
It is not the answer for what ails health care and it further worsens the doctor shortage, but at this time, I'm sure MDVIP has many takers. It represents the free market at work and doctors are just saying "enough" with the patients who are saying "enough" right along with them.


Healthcare Intelligence Network said...

Dr. Brayer,

I think you may be right. As publishers in the healthcaer industry, we see that physicians are fed up with existing reimbursement models. The industry is asking even more of them in terms of reporting and care management, so who can blame them? And as a consumer who just completed open enrollment benefits review and swallowed a 20 percent increase in premium costs, taht $200 a month is looking pretty inviting. As major physician organizations embrace the medical home concept but demand new "blended" payment forumlas, it will be interesting to see how the industry reacts. Will PCPs be happier, or leave the field in droves?

Rich said...

Lawyers can do it, so why can't docs?

Anonymous said...

I wish I could afford a concierge doctor. I pay $600/month for insurance and can't afford more on top of that. It is a wacky system where you pay a great deal and are still very unhappy with what you get.

Toni Brayer MD said...

Thanks Healthcare Intelligence Network: The medical home concepts are good for patient centered care and coordination, but unless they fix the reimbursement part...the home will not have an owner.