Physicians who practice concierge medicine are reimbursed for spending significant time with their patients, knowing them extremely well and following them closely through every hospitalization. This is the opinion of Dr. David Donnersberger, an internal-medicine specialist in private practice in Winnetka, IL, who is affiliated with the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine. In a recent interview for the Alter+Care Inspire Podcasts, Dr. Donnersberger described boutique or concierge VIP medicine as a return to a personal approach to healthcare where the physician knows the patient, their social situation and their health history.
In concierge practices, patients pay a flat annual fee and receive an expanded suite of services that includes the ability to call the physician on his cell phone at any time, obtain same-day appointments and – most importantly – receive personal care from the primary-care doctor when hospitalized. Dr. Donnersberger notes that the current reimbursement system pays more to the radiologist and the radiology department for a chest X-ray than for an hour-long conversation and annual physical exam of the patient in the doctor’s office. He believes that more information can be gleaned from that extensive conversation and physical exam, and serves as the starting point for years of personalized healthcare.
Practitioners of concierge medicine tend to have smaller practices than other physicians. While a typical primary-care physician may have 2,000 to 2,500 patients, Dr. Donnersberger and his three partners have a smaller load of between 1,200 and 1,500 individuals. Dr. Donnersberger’s practice is a hybrid – one which accepts patients who pay the upfront flat fee as well as others who rely on their healthcare insurance for reimbursement. Concierge medicine’s most powerful tool is its ability to control costs. Knowledge of a patient’s medical history can save money because the physician is keenly aware of pre-existing conditions that become crucial whenever that individual is hospitalized. This in-depth knowledge also saves the healthcare system thousands of dollars of workups that otherwise would have to be performed.
Tags: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, co-payment, copays, Dr David Donnersberger, medical liability, Medicare, medicine, physician, physician shortage, reimbursements, University of Chicago