Concierge Medicine finds its way to Henry County, Georgia!
By Melissa Robinson, Contributing Editor, The Henry County Times
Concierge medicine, also called boutique, retainer-based or VIP care is a growing trend across the United States. In metro Atlanta, several Atlanta physicians are practicing concierge care, and in Henry County, at least one local doc has joined the trend.
Dr. Derrell W. Anglyn, Jr. of Anglyn Family Medical Center in McDonough recently started a blended practice that includes a concierge medicine program at his medical office in McDonough. He has cut his patient load and now sees patients who have opted into the concierge medicine plan. Other patients are seen by other medical staff, such as a nurse practitioner or physician assistant.
Concierge medicine is a model for care that allows a concierge doctor to spend more time with a patient, be available for after-hours consultations, reduce or eliminate waiting times, secure same day appointments and in some cases make house calls—all for an annual fee.
Patients still need to pay co-pays or fees for services rendered, but a concierge “membership” gets them the fast track through the concierge doctor’s office as well as more personal attention and in some cases, enhanced exams and tests.
Here’s the way it works: Jane Doe signs up for a concierge medicine program with a concierge physician. She still uses her regular insurance and is billed her regular co-pays and fees that insurance doesn’t cover, however for an annual fee of say $2,000, she is able to get more expedited and personal care from her physician. The “concierge” physician is able to spend more time with Jane because he has reduced his normal patient load, taking on only 600 patients as opposed to the usual patient load of 2,000.
In numbers, concierge medicine seems to be a good idea for those who can afford it. According to a recent Piedmont Henry Hospital Community Health Needs Assessment preliminary summary report, in Henry County, the ratio of primary care physicians to the population is below both the national and state averages. In 2012 there was one provider for every 1,381 people. This could suggest more difficulty in getting timely appointments and longer waiting room times. In a concierge practice, those issues are not a concern.
However, critics say one of the problems with concierge care is that it allows better care for the wealthier patients and those who can, while low-income patients are left out. Also, some critics advise that more care doesn’t necessarily translate to better care. Just because you can see your doctor every month doesn’t necessarily mean that you should.
But Anglyn said the patients who have opted in to his concierge medicine practice aren’t necessarily the wealthiest people or the most high maintenance patients. He said that in his experience, the patients who have joined are those who have put a priority on the healthcare part of their lives.
In concierge type practices across the country, annual fees can range anywhere from approximately $800 to $5,000.
For Anglyn’s concierge medicine practice, the annual fee is $1,650 for one adult or $3,000 for a couple. Dependent children over the age of three are included at no extra charge and Anglyn said he sees that as a real bonus for someone with a few children. In his former practice, Anglyn would see an average of 24 to 28 patients a day. Now he sees an average of 25 to 30 patients a week.
For the fee, patients can expect same day appointments, longer visits, less waiting times and access to him 24/7 via his cell phone. He will also make house calls when necessary. Patients are also entitled to an enhanced physical, the “executive physical,” which is more comprehensive than a traditional physical exam or wellness visit, which he said is the trend today. Included in the executive physical is a more in-depth lipid panel screening as well as blood work for certain vitamin deficiencies and other tests such as an audiogram and a spirometer test.
Dr. Quentin Pirkle, Chief Medical Officer for Piedmont Medical Care Corporation, sees concierge medicine as simply a marketplace supply and demand.
“It’s a pure market phenomenon. The downside some might say is that you’re taking doctors out of the marketplace, but this kind of care is a response to a demand. People with disposable income put a priority of this type of medical care,” he said.
Pirkle said that several physicians are practicing concierge medicine at Piedmont and they have received positive feedback.
Anglyn, who contracts with Cypress Concierge Care, said Cypress representatives held three town hall meetings to get feedback and give information to the patients in his practice. He said he also held six mini meetings at his office so that his patients had all of the information to make the right decision for them.
Anglyn, who began practicing medicine in 1984, said part of his decision came because he wanted to practice medicine the way he did when he first started. He said since the mid-1990s, insurance regulations and documentation has become more stringent, particularly in the last few years. He said with the influx of new insured patients with the Obama Healthcare Act as well as increased insurance regulations, he couldn’t continue to see patients the way he wanted to and still make a living. Although he admits it was a difficult decision knowing that he would not be seeing some longtime patients who decided not to enroll in the concierge program. He said he is taking on new Medicare patients on the concierge medicine side of the practice, which is something he had previously been unable to do.
“I’m 60 years old now and I had to figure out how I could continue to practice medicine, enjoy it and enjoy my life at the same time. This is something I decided to try and see if it works, and so far, it’s working,” said Anglyn.
For more information about Anglyn’s concierge medicine practice, contact the office at 770-957-3922.