August 31, 2018
By: Asher Perzigian

Building a better bond between providers and patients

Healthcare consumers are more frequently availing themselves of concierge medicine services, particularly millennials and higher-income consumers. Is it time for hospitals to more widely step in to take advantage of this market demand?

In concierge medicine, patients pay an annual fee for access to a primary care physician. In turn, they get more individualized attention, reduced waiting times and a one-on-one physician relationship.

More doctors are enlisting in concierge medicine programs, too, seeing an opportunity to deliver patient-centric medicine and avoid burnout.

Hospitals and health systems are looking for new ways to diversify revenue streams and, not incidentally, attract and keep more doctors on staff. Concierge care offers a chance to do both in today’s experience driven culture.

Business is booming for on-demand healthcare, which includes concierge medicine. Yet concierge care has become the near-exclusive realm of boutiques and innovative start-ups, which are cutting into hospitals’ outdated primary care model for on-the-go, digitally enabled patients.

Are hospital systems missing out on a must-have opportunity? Between their historical electric medical record information, their knowledge of local issues and ability to more widely realize the benefits of population health, hospital systems know their patients extremely well. They also have critical infrastructure and clinical specialties that boutiques can’t offer.

By creating a subscription-based concierge model, lowering the physician-to-patient ratio in that model and making a stronger commitment to digital and personalized health, hospitals could execute concierge programs at scale. This would mean hiring more doctors, which is a big challenge in healthcare but not insurmountable. Hospitals can acquire boutique shops or build up their own concierge practices within the hospital network.

Once committed, providers must manage expectations. For example, patients with a concierge subscription shouldn’t expect an E-Z Pass through the emergency room when such care is required. Hospitals will also have to decide which clinicians in their systems are better suited to deliver concierge services.

For clinicians, concierge care can mean reconnecting with a passion for person-to-person care, something often only associated with country doctors of a fabled past. Patients benefit from increased access, personalized care, reduced time in clinics and improved patient outcomes due to a greater level of attention.

The maturation of mobile strategies in healthcare could make concierge medicine both affordable and practical for hospitals. It also neatly dovetails with consumers’ growing desire for more personalized care with increased access. Providers who take up concierge medicine have the opportunity to improve patient relationships—and thus put themselves in a better position to navigate the many newer industry challenges of today.

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