Concierge healthcare services via video – a concept on the rise

10th April, 2014 - Posted by Meredith Lawrence - No Comments

Concierge healthcare services are not a new concept. They may just seem that way for a large population of Americans. That’s because concierge healthcare services used to be a luxury that only a certain percentage of Americans could possibly afford.

However, changes in the healthcare system and economic drivers may be changing that.

Some doctors are finding themselves struggling to make ends meet under the current system in which healthcare services are provided and paid for. Health insurers pay set fees for healthcare services and doctors have found themselves taking on additional patients – at the cost of their work-life balance – to help them overcome rising overhead costs and turn a profit.

According to a recent article in U.S. News and World Report, doctors are moving away from this system and the long hours it’s forcing on them, and moving toward the concierge model. Under this model, doctors essentially work under retainer, being paid monthly fees to offer healthcare services to a patient or family. The article quotes numbers from the website MedScape, which show that the percent of physicians in concierge or cash-only practices increased from 4 percent in 2012 to 6 percent in 2013. And the number is growing.

However, even with the benefits to work-life balance and profitability, there are some potential downsides to ditching health insurance payments and turning to the concierge healthcare model.

First, many insurance providers – including Medicare – act as a referral program for doctors by directing members to the healthcare providers “in their network.” Also, the concierge healthcare model often includes providing house calls at no additional cost. This dramatically reduces the geographic area that a doctor can efficiently serve and forces doctors to be on the road – reducing the amount of patients they can see that day.

Telemedicine solutions can help overcome these challenges.

Healthcare practices operating in a concierge healthcare model could utilize telemedicine solutions to conduct many of  their house calls and appointments. This diminishes the travel element and enables medical professionals to see just as many – if not more – patients each day. Telemedicine can also allow doctors to cast a much wider net for their patients. Even with less patients being referred to a doctor via health insurance companies, doctors can compensate by effectively drawing their patients from across their entire state.

But the benefits aren’t just limited to the healthcare providers. Telemedicine solutions can also make the concierge healthcare model a better experience for patients.

Utilizing telemedicine solutions, patients can receive healthcare services from concierge healthcare providers in their own home without the need to travel to the doctor’s office. This eliminates the need to take time off of work, or the need to spend much of a day in a car and waiting room. Patients can also use their telemedicine solutions to stay in closer contact with their concierge healthcare providers. Patients with chronic conditions can even have frequent check-ins via telemedicine with their healthcare provider to ensure they’re effectively managing their condition.

Concierge healthcare may be a foreign concept to many Americans, but it’s a model that many patients may soon get to experience – regardless of their economic situation. By embracing telemedicine, doctors moving to the concierge healthcare model can cast a wider net for patients, more effectively conduct their house calls and see more patients without sacrificing their work-life balance. Telemedicine coupled with concierge healthcare can also mean more interaction with doctors, less time in the car and better outcomes for patients. It’s a novel concept that’s time – and technology – may have come.

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