The term concierge medicine is thought to have come from a journalist and practioners bristle when they hear it partly because it sounds so frivolous and also because there are so many variations within concierge care. The common theme among all concierge practices is that the patient pays the physician directly and so the most accurate term is direct practice, but that is clumsy and hasn't stuck. We call it concierge care.
What is Concierge Care? Think of concierge medicine's most common variant as a time share in a doctor. The physician agrees to keep his or her patient panel limited in size and in return, the patient pays a fee for membership in that group. The physician also generally agrees to provide other specific benefits for members. The fees are generally higher in smaller practices with more or better benefits and in practices with better reputations.
Most concierge practices have a membership contract which specifies their amenities and conditions so patients know precisely what they are buying. We advise people to only consider practices which require a membership contract.
By keeping their panels small, concierge physicians escape the assembly line model of insurance-driven healthcare and so should provide better service than other doctors. Most try hard to provide better quality of care also, but that is something nobody can simply assert. It has to be measured - but meaningful measures have eluded the medical profession so far.
A few years ago AllCare was asked to help create this educational video to explain concierge medicine in general terms. Dr. Garrison Bliss of QLiance in Seattle and Professor Regina Herzlinger of the Harvard Buiness School were kind enough to participate. Read Prof. Herzlinger's wonderful book, Who Killed Healthcare, to understand why the US healthcare deliver system is so dysfunctional.
QLiance uses the principles of concierge medicine to provide excellent primary care very at a remarkably low price.