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    Dr. Marcinko is originally from Loyola University MD, Temple University in Philadelphia and the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in PA; as well as Oglethorpe University and Emory University in Georgia, the Atlanta Hospital & Medical Center; Kellogg-Keller Graduate School of Business and Management in Chicago, and the Aachen City University Hospital, Koln-Germany. He became one of the most innovative global thought leaders in medical business entrepreneurship today by leveraging and adding value with strategies to grow revenues and EBITDA while reducing non-essential expenditures and improving dated operational in-efficiencies.

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Concierge Medicine and the “Zombie” Medical Practices

Continued Growth of Boutique Medical Practices Today

[By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA CMP™]dem2

The boutique, or direct reimbursement, or cash based medicine, or concierge medical practice business model requires an annual fee for personalized treatment that includes amenities far beyond those offered in the typical practice, or suggested by physician medical unions. Patients pay annual out-of-pocket fees for top tier service, but also use traditional health insurance to cover allowable expenses, such as inpatient hospital stays, outpatient diagnostics and care, and basic tests and physician exams. Typical annual fees can range from $1,500 to $ 5,000 per patient, to family fees that top $25,000 a year, or more. The concept, initially developed for busy corporate executives, has now made its way to others desiring such service.

A Higher Level of Care

Medical providers get to provide a much higher level of care and get to know their patients as they enjoy the incentive to spend appropriate time with them, and over time, get to know them within their unique social/cultural context as well (hence the house calls become important). Patients enjoy the access, the attentiveness, and are willing to spend cash to have the type of unhurried, contemplative time with physicians that is required to develop a trusted relationship and deliver high quality care. The financial remuneration potential is compelling as well.

Now, let us compare and contrast various parameters of traditional medical practice [third party reimbursement] with the same parameters of  so-called “new-wave” concierge medicine. Then, let the next-generation of doctors decide.

Current Traditional Model

  • patients seen at 15-20 min increments
  • 2,000 – 3,000 patients
  • Paperwork, administrative burdens, frustrations, and lack coordinated care
  • Impersonal experience (long waits, un-intelligible interactions with health care system)
  • Average Salary = $150,000-250,000

Concierge Practice Model Potential

  • direct relationship with patients
  • 300-500 patients
  • $1,500 – $3,000 access/retainer fee
  • Reduced overhead, positive interactions, care coordination and increased quality
  • Personalized experience (reduced headaches and paperwork with transparent pricing)
  • 24/7 access, same day appointments with multiple other amenities
  • Average Salary = $100,000 – $500,000

Enter the Franchisors

Concierge medical practices can be developed organically, or use a franchise business model [personal communication, Suzanne R. Dewey, Forté Partners, LLC, Williamstown, MA]. Examples of franchisors include:

Opponents and Pessimists

There have been plenty of opponents, within medicine and outside, to the idea of concierge practices almost from the first day.  For example,

The state of Washington’s insurance commissioner attacked the concept of practices offering all the primary care patients needed for a prepaid fee or retainer, arguing that such practices amounted to the business of underwriting health insurance. He said that the practices would have to meet all the regulatory requirements for such an insurance business, including establishing capital reserves and maintaining loss reserves for the payment of claims. It didn’t work, and besides, few concierge practices offer free traditional medical care once retainers are paid–most concierge physician’s bill insurance plans for all the services covered under their patients’ coverage.  The Medicare folks chimed in and managed to drive one physician out of business, arguing that he had tried to charge Medicare patients an extra $600 a year for services already covered by Medicare, hence he was guilty of illegal “balance billing.” Rather than fight Medicare over the issue, the doctor gave up and closed his practice. [C. Davis, “Big Problems for Medicare and Concierge Medicine,” Sierra Sacramento Valley Medicine, 55:3, May/June, 2004 (www.ssvms.org)]” 

Attacking ME?

Objections to concierge medicine focus on both its causes and its effects, and some critics have even attack me, personally. For example, just look what “they” said in the online journal: “Health Care Strategic Management.”

Many critics argue that concierge medicine merely reflects physician greed and unconcern over the needs of the community. Indeed, a recent book by David Marcinko, Business of Medical Practice [Advanced Profit Maximization Techniques for Savvy Doctors], includes a chapter on “The Case for Concierge Medicine” (Ch. 24) as one of the ways ‘savvy’ physicians can maximize their profit, as if that is what medicine is all about. While the image of physicians may retain some Marcus Welby elements of their rushing to the hospital or a patient’s home in the middle of the night, most physicians would rather stay home and leave the job to someone else, it is argued”.

Nicht Schadenfreude

Just think! My mother always feared I’d be a no-body. Good publicity – bad publicity – just spell the name correctly. Schadenfreude may be defined as a “largely unanticipated delight in the suffering of another which is cognized as trivial “ and I take no delight in the slow collapse of traditional medical practice models; or the economic, professional or personal pain of colleagues. But, I also often tell my critics – and clients – that although it’s awfully nice to be altruistic; I am always mindful of the competitive business adage: “no margin-no mission.” And, in as much as this attack was written in July 2005, I can only wonder if I was prescient, or just lucky? With all due respect, I believe it was the former, rather than the later. Why so? Well, just consider how fast www.ChoiceMed.com is growing. This stuff is not rocket-science.

www.MedicalBusinessAdvisors.combiz-book1

About Concierge Choice Physicians

Concierge Choice Physicians: http://choice.md  is a national organization offering a hybrid business model. Physicians divide their practice between a traditional practice and a retainer practice. The retainer practice is limited to approximately 150 patients. A typical concierge practitioner may have 300-500 patients, while the norm for a traditionalist is about 2,000-3,000 patients.

Assessment – Whither the “Zombies”

I, also ruefully wonder how many “zombie” medical practices [practitioners] are out there? You know the kind – a medical practice with neither a good/bad balance sheet. One with only subsistence level operating performance; a practice that is not growing organically or thru merger activity. It is just barely existing as the doctor-in-charge slowly, agonizingly, milks it to death; or retires, whichever comes first.

Conclusion

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