Although technology and research success have enabled medical miracles that were unimaginable decades ago, many patients and doctors crave personal care that is more typical of yesteryear. Boutique or concierge medicine may be able to provide you with that option, but only if you can afford it.
Most boutique practices charge a high annual retainer that typically includes same-day appointments, short waits, and email or cell phone contact with the doctor. Some models include home visits and travel-medicine services. To provide this level of access, doctors accept a limited number of patients.
There are three practice models:
Concierge practices have ignited controversy in the medical community. Some say these practices discriminate against those who cannot afford to participate. Some doctors fear that limited practice sizes could increase crowding at remaining offices.
Another concern with these practices is that physicians in them do not treat a wide variety of patients. Exposing themselves to different types of patients with different conditions helps them build experience.
Nearly everyone recognizes that those who have the financial means more often buy better cars, private schooling, and other services. Medicine, though, has prided itself on providing equal care to everyone, yet some differences have always existed.
Being well informed is essential. If you are considering changing to a boutique-style medical practice, take these steps:
While debate continues about the bigger issues, individuals that can afford it seem eager to embrace the added convenience.
American Medical Association
United States Department of Health and Human Services
The College of Family Physicians of Canada
Conway C. Physician ownership of hospitals significantly impacted by health care reform legislation. University of Houston Law Center. http://www.law.uh.edu/healthlaw/perspectives/2010/%28CC%29%20Stark.pdf . Published April 2010. Accessed September 17, 2012.
Franklin D. Morning rounds: boutique hospitals and health insurers. National Public Radio website. Available at: http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2009/07/morning_rounds_boutique_hospit.html . Published July 13, 2010. Accessed September 17, 2012.
Silva C. Concierge medicine a mere blip on Medicare radar. amednews.com. 2010 Sept 30. Available at: http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2010/09/27/gvse0930.htm. Accessed September 17, 2012.
US ‘boutique medicine’ could threaten care for the majority. Br Med J . 2002 Jan 26;324.
Last reviewed September 2012 by Brian Randall, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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