This model of care is increasing in popularity – here’s why
When we step back to look at the big picture of primary care in the US, it is easy to see it is heading toward a breaking point.
According to the Annals of Family Medicine, projected visits to primary care physicians are set to increase from 462 million in 2008 to 565 million in 2025 (an increase of a little over 100 million) due mainly to population growth and aging. A 2016 report prepared by the American Association of Medical Colleges warned that there could be a shortfall of up to 35,600 primary care physicians by 2025. This predicted rising demand for care taken together with the looming shortage of doctors means that it may be more difficult to find the primary care you need in the coming years. Patients in some areas are already feeling the strain by waiting weeks, sometimes months, for appointments.
From a healthcare provider’s point-of-view, it can be a constant battle to maintain current reimbursement levels due to alternative payment models and the administrative burdens they bring. Plus, rising deductibles mean that physicians are finding themselves in the position of having to collect more money from patients than ever before. Providers are justified in thinking that it is becoming harder to collect reimbursement for the services they provide.
With the push-and-pull of supply and demand, the primary healthcare market is developing two types of service delivery models to cope: direct primary care (DPC) and concierge medicine. Although we increasingly hear these terms, there can be confusion about what they are and how they affect patients. Sometimes people use the terms concierge care and direct primary care interchangeably. However, DPC is usually used as a replacement for insurance – giving patients access to primary care services for a monthly fee as low as $49 – $99 a month. Occasionally you will hear this model described as the ‘old’ way of delivering primary care where doctors focus on developing one-on-one relationships with their patients and are available for house-calls.
Concierge medicine means different things to different people. But generally, it is paying a yearly or monthly retainer to have increased access to a healthcare practice.
When the term was first coined, it had an elitist connotation – it was most commonly associated with a wealthy clientele that paid for 24/7 access to their physician. However, today’s definition of a concierge practice has changed, and many now see these practices a way to obtain the primary care appointments they need when they need them.
Although the specific attributes of concierge practices vary, they usually have the following in common
Already have DPC or concierge practice?
These strategies will create efficiencies when handling payments:
Use credit-card-on-file for time-of-service and recurring payments
Reduce administrative labor costs by choosing a payment partner that integrates with your practice management system
Safeguard the reputation of your practice by using a healthcare payment processing partner that is HIPAA, PCI and SOX compliant
Thinking that a DPC or concierge practice may be for you? You are not alone.
According to conciergemedicinetoday.org, inquiries about these care models for both primary and specialty practices (like cardiology) continue to rise.