Time. These days, it is a commodity too few of us can afford. We rush from one meeting or appointment to the next, overscheduled and overwhelmed. When it comes to managing our health, today’s work-life balance means we don’t always have the luxury of investing precious minutes in doctors’ waiting rooms. In fact, on average, patients spend over an hour waiting to see their physicians, only to meet with them for under 20 minutes.1 And that doesn’t include the nearly 40 minutes spent traveling for the appointment.
Patients aren’t the only ones under time constraints. According to one study, a primary care physician would need 21.7 hours per day to provide all acute, chronic and preventive care for a panel of 2,300 patients.2 In fact, physicians now spend 49% of their time on administrative matters, while spending only 27% of their time on actual patient consultation.3 Predictably, this results in decreased patient satisfaction and increased stress and job dissatisfaction for physicians.
Reviewing this data, it is clear that the current health management model has become dysfunctional. One solution is membership in a concierge or “membership” medical practice. In addition to other benefits, concierge membership programs provide members with opportunities for same- or next-day appointments with their physician. Concierge physicians have smaller patient panels, which means they can spend more time seeing patients instead of pushing paper. Moreover, concierge physicians often participate with members’ insurance companies, which, if applicable, means the physician will bill and collect payment in full from members’ health insurance plans for their professional services (subject, of course to applicable deductibles, copayments and coinsurance). The concierge membership fee, however, is not covered by insurance.
Because these concierge programs emphasize collaboration between physician and patient, both parties now have more time to focus on patient wellness and preventive care. This physician availability and continuity, as well as reasonable wait times, encourage trust between patients and physicians.4 In turn, this trust creates stronger physician-patient relationships, which leads to higher patient satisfaction and wellness and increased job satisfaction and less stress for physicians. Everybody wins.
It’s about time.
1 Ray, J. N. et al. (2015). Opportunity Costs of Ambulatory Medical Care in the United States. Am J. Manag Care, 21(8), 567-574.
2 Altschuler, J et al. (2012). Estimating a Reasonable Patient Panel Size for Primary Care Physicians with Team- Based Task Allocation. Ann Fam Med, 10(5), 396-400.
3 Sinsky C., Colligan L., Li l., et al. (2016). Allocation of Physician Time in Ambulatory Practice: A time and Motino Study in 4 Specialties. Ann Intern Med, 165, 753-760.
4 Goold, S. D., & Lipkin, M. (1999). The Doctor-Patient Relationship: Challenges, Opportunities, and Strategies. J Gen Intern Med, 14(Suppl 1), S26-S33.