What Is Concierge Healthcare?

November 3, 2021 by Antonio Arias, MBA, CHBME

Topics: Medical Billing, Practice Management

A staggering 90% of patients are satisfied with their concierge healthcare experience, and 97% feel their doctors take a personal interest in their quality of care. These are extraordinary ratings for patient satisfaction—how were these results achieved? 

Concierge healthcare delivers personalized care for patients who pay a type of subscription fee to their concierge practice; customized health plans plus on-demand physicians means patients are largely happy with their provider and medical care. What is concierge healthcare, and is it right for your practice?

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What Is Concierge Healthcare?

Concierge healthcare is a model in the medical industry in which patients pay a subscription fee to have unlimited access to their doctor; other names for this kind of model include retainer healthcare, cash-only practice, and membership medicine. These subscription fees are typically high—sometimes as much as tens of thousands of dollars per year—and go toward directly paying physicians.

In a 2020 study by Concierge Medicine Today, people who were considering joining a concierge healthcare practice were asked, “If your doctor went out of business today, how much—or how little—would you care?” More than half (55%) responded that it would be inconvenient, but that they already didn’t have a deep relationship with their provider; 27% said they would be glad because they wanted a different provider anyway. Concierge medicine aims to address this component of healthcare by facilitating stronger patient-physician relationships.

patient receiving concierge medical services virtually on a laptop

Advantages of Concierge Healthcare Services

Concierge healthcare can offer a wide array of benefits for patients who are willing and able to pay for it, including:

More Personalized Healthcare

With a monthly or annual fee comes direct, all-access to doctors who are able to spend more time with patients since their practice is naturally limited by the number of clients who can afford this model of healthcare. 

Concierge practices deliver enhanced care and have greater availability to their patients because they aren’t trying to address thousands of patients in a year. Along the way, physicians can provide care more specific to each individual patient and build a more comprehensive relationship with the patient, thus boosting overall patient satisfaction levels.

Immediate Appointments

Since concierge healthcare providers have a smaller pool of patients to treat, appointments are more readily available than at a traditional practice. So instead of having to wait weeks or even months for an appointment, concierge practices offer more immediate appointments, usually within the same week. 

This greatly reduces the hassle a patient has to endure in order to get seen, and further maintains an efficient schedule of care since problems or new symptoms can be addressed quickly before they develop into something worse.

Better Manage Chronic Conditions

Concierge healthcare can prove invaluable to patients who have chronic illnesses that require more frequent visits with their provider. In the long-run, paying for a concierge healthcare provider would be more cost-effective than paying for each individual office visit at a regular practice

Plus, patients with chronic conditions are able to be treated more closely and effectively monitored with longer interactions with physicians. 

Is Concierge Healthcare Right For Your Practice? 3 Questions You Need to Answer

If you’re considering transitioning to a concierge healthcare model at your medical practice, there are a few points to address before doing so:

1. Do You Want to Join a Concierge Partnership or Venture On Your Own?

Implementing a concierge model at your practice can happen in two ways: you join forces with an established concierge firm or you suddenly become an entrepreneur. 

Both paths require various piles of paperwork, of course, but the latter method will place a significant amount of administrative responsibilities on you and your team. Setting out on your own has its benefits, but also has its challenges, so it’s important to anticipate what that course of action entails.

2. Are You Prepared to Be On-Call 24/7?

Patients paying monthly or annual fees to a healthcare concierge practice expect unlimited access to you as their provider. This means you might get phone calls in the middle of the night to address concerns or have your dinner interrupted by patients who have questions. 

Prepare yourself to be alert and bring your best bedside manner at all hours of the day—and night.

3. How Do You Want to See Patients?

Since concierge healthcare is so customizable and consumer-centric, you should be open to multiple methods of communication and providing care. You might opt to have a physical office location that patients can visit you in, or you might exclusively make house calls and drive out to wherever patients are. 

Regardless, you’ll likely need to incorporate telemedicine practices given the enduring state of the pandemic. When considering the location and demographics of your market, try to be realistic to what your patients expect.

family receiving in-person concierge healthcare services

Medical Billing Tips for Concierge Healthcare Practices

Tip #1: Identify Which Financial Model You Prefer

Concierge healthcare providers can operate under a few different types of financial models, including:

  • Full concierge services: This type of practice is limited to a select group of patients who pay a large retainer or membership fee to obtain personalized concierge services; insurance isn’t usually billed.
  • Direct pay concierge: A DPC model offers patients a number of established services for a flat fee.
  • Fee for extra care: In this model, a practice will bill insurance for covered services; however, this type of practice will then offer extra services not usually covered by insurance and charge the patient directly for this additional care.
  • Hybrid concierge model: This medical practice houses both traditional and concierge types of care under one roof; patients can either pay for the concierge experience or maintain a regular provider relationship.

Each of these models has their own specifications that you should be aware of before embarking on the concierge healthcare journey.

Tip #2: Remember That Concierge Medicine Isn’t Covered by Medicare

Another important note about medical billing for concierge healthcare is that your practice is not covered by patients with Medicare—patients are still 100% responsible for paying membership fees. 

However, your practice still needs to follow Medicare rules. For example, your concierge practice can’t charge patients extra for Medicare-covered services or charge additional fees for services covered under Medicare. 

Tip #3: Partner with a Medical Billing Firm To Manage Your Revenue Cycle

Considering transforming your medical practice to the concierge healthcare model? Already established in the concierge healthcare world but want to further streamline your medical billing and coding? Partnering with a trusted medical billing team of experts is the perfect answer!

At NCG Medical, we’ve been helping healthcare practices devote more attention to patients for four decades by handling all the ins and outs of the medical billing process. Our customized solutions can improve revenue management cycles and ensure that your concierge practice is realizing the full value of the services it provides. Contact us today to learn more about how we can transform your medical practice management.

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