Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Concierge Medicine: An Old Concept with a New Twist

The terms "concierge medicine" and "boutique medical practice" have recently appeared in the news after the death of Michael Jackson. Apparently, Mr. Jackson employed a personal physician for his various medical needs.

Some family physicans have become frustrated by the need to see increasing numbers of patients to maintain their practice in the face of declining reimbursement. They are opting for a different model of health delivery where they can see fewer patients and deliver more personalized care 24/7 for direct payment from the patients. This model has become popularized in a recent TV program called "Royal Pains." The concept has also been harshly criticized as "elitist."

Actually, this model for health care delivery originated in the early 19th century under the term of "contract practice." A contract practice was one where a physician was expected to deliver care to a family, plantation or indigent members of a commuunity for a fixed annual fee.

I believe the concept of contract medicine will be gaining in popularity both from the standpoint of medical care delivered to a community as well as to wealthy families. History has taught us that those who have the financial means will always demand a better product. Now that we are looking at the potential for a more uniform health care system in America the demand for a private and exclusive system will also increase.

Let us know what you think.