Thank you for visiting this blog post! I am re-reading this for the first time in a while and I found it a bit confusing myself. I have gone through and made a few edits and added some more headers. I believe it needs a full rewrite, which I will complete soon. The confusing thing is that I describe some models of VIP and Concierge which I do not like and do not agree with first. Then, I attempt to describe my idea of what VIP should be. Essentially, in a micro-practice, all patients get premium VIP service at regular prices without anyone being left behind. When I re-read this time, it seemed like I might be promoting the other kinds of VIP as well, which I did not intend. Either way, if you have any suggestions, comments or questions, please email me or use the contact form. Thank you! -Mark Leeds, D.O.
What is Concierge and VIP medicine?
Concierge and VIP medicine. These are two terms that you may have heard of in the news, from your doctor or from your friends or family. They are generally interchangeable. The meaning, however, can vary depending on who you ask.
It is generally accepted that a doctor who has a concierge or VIP practice only accepts a limited number of patients.
This might range from 200-500. It could be more or less than that range, but those are typical numbers. This is compared to the thousands of patients that a family medical practice will accept. Having a smaller pool of patients allows the doctor to give each patient more time and attention.
Payment is another common theme.
Insurance does not cover VIP services. If it did, everyone would want to sign up. The fact that insurance companies cover routine office visits is why there is a need for a concierge/VIP level of service. When people pay for insurance, they tend to want to use it.
Insurance companies negotiate contracts with doctors.
They motivate the doctors to sign up as many patients as possible. This leads to busy doctors overwhelmed with many patients using their insurance to come in for routine care and minor sick visits.
Doctors with VIP programs often charge a monthly or yearly fee.
This can cost as much as $5000 per year. This fee covers any doctors visits that are needed at any time for any reason. It also covers phone calls. It is expected that the doctor will be easily reachable by phone. No answering service or office staff to field the calls. At that price, you expect access to the doctor’s cell phone.
Does Concierge or VIP medicine replace the need for health insurance?
No, health insurance is still important. At least you will want to have insurance that covers diagnostic testing and hospitalization. This is far less expensive than the kind of insurance that does cover routine doctor’s office visits.
What are the differences in VIP programs?
Fast Lane Service
First, there is the “fast lane” form of VIP. There are some doctors who have VIP programs who still have many patients in their practice. They may have thousands of patients, but only a few hundred who are VIP. They offer a separate waiting room, less wait time, easier access to call the doctor. Often, in these cases, the VIP patients must have insurance that pays for the doctor’s visits, and they also pay an additional premium to the doctor to have VIP status. Some people may find this offensive, to have a visible separation of classes of patients within a single medical practice.
Another type of VIP practice may be run by a large company with a marketing network. They sign up doctors for their program and refer patients to those doctors. The doctors agree to maintain a limited number of patients and give them some priority services. These programs may promote the credentials of the doctors over availability. Members get to see the top local doctors in their field on a routine basis. They may, however, not have easy phone access when they have questions or minor issues.
Most VIP programs are of these two types
Most concierge and VIP medicine programs fall into the types described so far. They are similar to first class on an airplane or having a special pass at an amusement park to skip the line. They are designed for people who consider themselves to be of a high status who do not want to wait with the “herd”. These patients want to be seen getting better service than the rest of us.
There is another type of concierge and VIP medicine practice that is not as well known.
That is because there is no large organization that benefits from promoting it. It is something that you have to know to look for. This sort of medical practice will likely not even use the words concierge or VIP.
A micro practice is a medical practice that is, by definition, a small medical practice. There is little to no staff to help the doctor. There is often no answering service. A micro practice usually consists of a doctor working in a modest office space. These doctors do there best to leverage affordable modern technology to be available to their patients.
Smaller is better
In a micro practice, the doctor cannot accept too many patients. Without a large office staff, it would be too much paperwork to handle. For that reason, they usually don’t work with insurance companies either. Patients can file their own insurance claims if they choose to do so.
No crowds, less waiting, direct access to the doctor
So, when you see a micro practice doctor, you will not find a crowded waiting room. When you call the doctor, you will not get busy, flustered receptionists or an answering service. What you will get is personal and caring service from the doctor. A micro-practice means there is more time for you. When you come to the office, you only see the doctor. When you call, you get the doctor on the phone.
Is it expensive to see a micro practice doctor?
Not really. Some doctors do charge a monthly fee whether you come in or not and some charge only when you come in and include a month of ongoing service after each visit. The fees are usually reasonable and less than the big concierge and VIP medicine programs.
Small business owners love micro-practices
Micro-practices are particularly ideal for small business owners. Small business owners are a unique group of people who value their time and independence. They don’t like to wait in lines or crowds and they don’t like to wait on the phone. This is not because the small business owner thinks that he or she is better than anyone else. It is because they work hard and their time is valuable. There are no sick days for the small business owner.
To summarize, ideally, concierge and VIP medicine should mean that you get the same level of care as the doctor’s own family. It is like having a doctor in the family when you have a doctor with a micro practice. If you are interested in learning more about the convenience of seeing a doctor who practices true concierge and VIP medicine in the form of a micro-practice, call Mark Leeds, D.O. today at 954-776-6226.