The other day I was asked what I thought about the medical concierge model. The person I was speaking to wanted to know if I thought the concierge model will “save” primary care or if the concierge model could be a viable solution to the health care crisis.
I think that the concierge model is to health care what the Segway is to transportation.
When the Segway came out, people touted it as the next big thing in transportation; a solution to our congested roads and a potential liberation on our gas consumption, not to mention the ecological advantages an electric powered means of transportation affords.
Ten years later, the Segway has done little to change how we go about. It’s too expensive, still too unconventional and for the most part, impractical for the average consumer. Sure, it serves a purpose for city tours, for cops to patrol cities, and zoo keepers to move about the zoo, but other than that, it realty doesn’t have much use.
I think the concierge model has many similarities to the Segway. The model is still expensive for the average consumer, and can be impractical for specialties outside of internal med or family practice. Thus, it will only see life with a very small group of doctors and patients.
Don’t read me wrong. It is not that I don’t think the model can work or I think the systems is some how flawed. Anything that removes the insurance companies from the picture is an A+ in my book. But my point is that it only serves a very small niche of the population (both docs and patients). So, in terms of being a “savior” to primary care, I don’t have very much faith. And in terms of being a viable solution to the health care crisis, I think it can only make the problem of access worse. If there are doc shortages as it is right now (and huge primary care shortages predicted in the future), imagine if 50% of docs go the concierge route and limit their practices to only 500 patients each.
What are your thoughts? Is the concierge practice a model for all? Will it have widespread adoption? I know there are some out there that disagree with me. Let me hear it.