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Using Hybrid Concierge Medicine to Attract, Incentivize Primary Care Physicians

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About one in three physicians are considering transitioning to subscription-based care, such as concierge medicine, according to a recent Accenture study. However, concierge medicine has caused some concern because it can disenfranchise patients who can no longer afford to receive care from their physician in a subscription-based model.

At the same time, recruiting new physicians to hospitals or health systems has become more difficult due to the ever-growing physician shortage.

Wayne Lipton, the founder of Concierge Choice Physicians, believes that hybrid concierge medicine can help hospitals recruit and retain physicians while still allowing a hospital to maintain a common mission of caring for all patients.

In a hybrid concierge medicine model, the primary care physician makes it an option for his or her patients to participate in subscription-based care. The patients can choose to pay a fee for one-on-one, concierge service from the physician, or choose to continue receiving care traditionally from the same physician. That way, insurance-based patients can continue to receive care.

According to Mr. Lipton, if hospitals or health systems give their physicians the option to practice hybrid concierge medicine, the organizations can more easily recruit and retain physicians during the shortage and may actually help lessen the effects of the shortage in the future.

A desirable environment for physicians

In a hybrid concierge model, physicians generally see fewer patients per hour because they spend more time with their concierge patients than they do with their traditional patients. "Primary care is built around understanding a patient over a long period of time," says Mr. Lipton. "It's what primary care physicians are comfortable with."

In a time when more physicians are experiencing burnout and are contemplating early retirement, the hybrid concierge model can be a way for physicians to cut down on volume and avoid becoming over-stressed. This can lead to better physician retention because fewer physicians are lost to retirement.

Also, hospitals can market the hybrid concierge medicine option and make the organization look attractive to physicians seeking a new affiliation or employment, which can make physician recruitment easier during the shortage.

Incentivize primary care

Traditionally, primary care physicians have not made as much money as their specialist counterparts. This is one of the major causes of the primary care physician shortage — more medical students choose to go into a specialty practice and overlook primary care because they know it will not be as profitable of a career choice. "Unless the economics of primary care are increased to make it more appealing, there are going to be [fewer] doctors," Mr. Lipton says.

Hybrid concierge medicine is an opportunity for traditional primary care physicians to tap into a new revenue stream. "It makes it economically attractive to become a primary care physician," says Mr. Lipton.

Also, the hybrid model increases physician compensation without affecting the cost of care from an insurance or government plan basis since it is coming from an outside source. "It has no negative impact on the global cost of care," Mr. Lipton says.

By economically incentivizing primary care in this way, more medical students may become inclined to practice primary care, which can help lessen the projected shortage of primary care physicians in the future.

More Articles on Concierge Medicine:

10 Steps for Hospitals to Follow to Recruit New Physicians
How ACOs Will Affect Physician Recruitment

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