Healthcare News & Insights

Concierge medicine could boost your bottom line

As a way to improve revenue while still providing high-quality care to patients, some hospitals have embraced a payment model more often seen in primary care practices: concierge medicine. 

ThinkstockPhotos-450745593 (1)Typically, in concierge medicine (also called “direct pay” medicine), patients pay a fee in exchange for unlimited access to a physician for their basic healthcare needs. The physician tends to go above and beyond the normal services covered by insurance, offering patients a more personalized experience.

Primary care doctors have used this model as a way to cut some of the red tape surrounding reimbursement. And now hospitals are hopping on the bandwagon as well.

A recent article in Forbes magazine gives some insight into the trend. Hospitals not only have the potential to increase their profits with concierge medicine, they can also give patients better care.

Many physicians who switch to a direct pay system say they have smaller patient loads, but can spend more time with them to effectively meet their needs. And they can easily invest in new technologies and treatments to give patients more comprehensive medical assessments, instead of being limited by what an insurance plan will cover.

And according to an article in Physicians Practice, providers who switch to concierge care receive other benefits, such as:

  • increased stability in a changing healthcare climate
  • better profit margins
  • more control over the healthcare process and care delivery, and
  • higher satisfaction from patients.

A hospital’s rationale

One example of a hospital experimenting with concierge medicine is Massachusetts General Hospital.

According to an article from the New York Times news service published in The Bulletin of Central Oregon, the facility will open a concierge medical practice this summer. At a cost of $6,000 per year, patients will have access to one of three doctors, as well as personalized nutritional and wellness counseling.

As an added bonus not often found in direct-pay practices, patients in Massachusetts General’s concierge medicine program will also be able to take advantage of the benefits afforded by affiliation with a large hospital. Concierge doctors will personally get them in touch with top surgeons and specialists for any required procedures.

While this move has drawn criticism from some observers, especially since the hospital was originally founded with a mission to treat disadvantaged patients, regardless of income, Massachusetts General made the move to offer the option to patients who had the means for it.

In the Bulletin article, Misty Hathaway, the hospital’s senior director for specialized services, said, “Healthcare economics are such, as well as the needs and wants of some different patient populations, that we’re offering this concierge model. It won’t be the right model for everybody, but it will help us generate different sources of revenue in a way to fund the core mission.”

As another way of recognizing that full-on concierge care isn’t for everyone, some facilities are exploring a “hybrid concierge” model, as discussed on the Diagnostic Imaging blog, where they offer both a direct-pay program and insurance-based options for patients who either don’t want or can’t afford concierge care.

Many specialists, such as cardiologists, are drawn to this model of concierge medicine.

Why concierge care benefits hospitals

Offering patients concierge medicine services could make a big difference in their outcomes over the continuum of care, especially if your facility follows a model like Massachusetts General – giving patients access to both general practitioners and experienced specialists in a one-stop shop for their medical needs.

And it could be a welcome revenue boost for your hospital.

Even if you’re already affiliated with standard primary care practices, it’s worth seeing if offering any sort of concierge medicine services to patients would be beneficial to your hospital’s operations.

Polling patients to see if they’d be interested in a direct-pay model for their healthcare needs is the first step in learning if such a program would be worthwhile.

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