In today's busy world of long wait times for appointments and short office visits, many patients and doctors crave increased individual medical attention 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.
Practice Specifics ^
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.
Concierge Concerns ^
Concierge practices have ignited controversy in the medical community. Some say these practices discriminate against those who cannot afford to participate.
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.
Do You Want to Make the Switch? ^
Being well informed is essential. If you are considering changing to a boutique-style medical practice, take these steps:
- Learn about the doctor’s experience and credentials.
- Ask about access to specialty and emergency care.
- Ask if the practice accepts your insurance plan and find out about their billing practices.
- Be cautious of practices trying to have it both ways, with some patients receiving boutique access and others not.
- Look for extra value, such as comprehensive exams and wellness plans.
- Stay within your budget.
While debate continues about the bigger issues, individuals that can afford it seem eager to embrace the added convenience.
American Medical Association
US Department of Health & 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. Accessed June 29, 2016.
Franklin D. Morning rounds: boutique hospitals and health insurers. National Public Radio website. Available at: http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2009/07/morning_rounds_boutique_hospit.html. Accessed June 29, 2016.
Silva C. Concierge medicine a mere blip on Medicare radar. American Medical News website. Available at: http://www.amednews.com/article/20100930/government/309309997/8. Accessed June 29, 2016.
US ‘boutique medicine’ could threaten care for the majority. BMJ. 2002;324(7331):187.
Last reviewed June 2016 by Michael Woods, MD