How to bridge the gaps in concierge medicine

April 7, 2022 in Personalized Healthcare  •  By Miles Varn, MD
concierge medicine

Concierge medicine can offer a range of benefits, but choosing a concierge or direct medical practice can also mean that there are gaps in the services and types of care you may need. A more comprehensive approach is to combine concierge medicine with the support of a health advisor to ensure you’ll have access to all the care and resources you need.

The advantages of concierge medicine and direct primary care

When it first became available, concierge medicine was usually associated with a very high annual membership fee that provided patients with expanded access to the practice’s physicians. The practice didn’t accept insurance and required all care to be paid for out of pocket. Over time, the concierge medicine model has evolved. Now there are practices that charge a smaller monthly or annual fee, sometimes as little as $100 per year, and also accept patient’s health insurance. These practices offer many of the same advantages as the original concierge medicine practices, including:

  • Longer appointments
  • Same-day appointments
  • Expanded, 24/7 communication with a healthcare provider via email, text, and video
  • On-premises pharmacies, lab, and imaging services

Some higher-end concierge practices even make house calls.

What are the gaps left by concierge medicine?

Concierge and direct primary care practices tend to follow the typical U.S. medical system focus on preventive care–such as annual physicals, immunizations, and standard screening tests–and sick care. But if you need the ongoing care of a specialist for a chronic or serious illness or you’re living with a complex or rare health issue, a concierge practice isn’t likely to have physicians on staff who can diagnose and manage your care.

By adding the services of a health advisor to your care strategy, you can make sure you have the complete spectrum of care and support you need no matter what your health concerns are. An advisor can work with your concierge or direct primary care physician to close any gaps, providing:

  • Expedited access to a broad network of experienced specialists in all medical specialties
  • 24/7 access to your advisor to ensure you can connect with the care you need if you face an emergency
  • Easy access to in-person or virtual second opinions with physicians who are experts in treating your condition
  • Coordination of communication between all the healthcare providers you see to help you avoid the risk of care fragmentation
  • Evidence-based medical research to help you understand your diagnosis and make a more informed treatment decision
  • Collection, review, and regular updating of your complete medical record, which can help lower your risk of medical errors and misdiagnosis, as well as the creation of a secure electronic medical record that can be shared in minutes with any healthcare provider
  • Connection to experienced healthcare providers anywhere in the world to ensure you get the quality care you need if you get sick or are injured while you’re away from home
  • Access to specialists to help you manage illness or improve your overall wellbeing, including integrative medicine specialists, dietitians, physical therapists, mental healthcare providers, and sleep specialists

By combining concierge medicine or direct primary care with health advisory services, you can create a comprehensive care team tailored to your needs.

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