Health Pro: Family Practitioner Narrows Focus On Fewer Patients

Dr. Gregory Kirk of Merritt Island is trying a new idea using an annual membership

fee for office visits to his family practice rather than submitting to medical insurance.

The “concierge medicine” model in place since last October charges each patient $750 to $1,500 each year for all doctor visits and office-related expenses like blood draws, EKGs and other tests. All other testing and procedures are still covered by insurance.

“We are doing it differently,” the family practitioner said. “We decided to not file insurance, and there are no co-pays for each visit.”

The overall number of patients has dropped from about 2,000 to just fewer than his goal of 350 patients, he said.

Another important change is Kirk is able to continue using paper medical charts rather than complying with the requirement to use Electronic Medical Records, which he says is expensive and remains problematic because of a lack of communication of data between doctors under different health care systems.

“When they first pushed it through Congress, they estimated it would be $10,000 to $20,000 per doctor to go from paper to electronic. The real number is closer to $100,000,’’ he said.

It’s a risky move to go into a new type of practice, but Kirk says it should be worth it in being able to provide better care because he’s working under less stress.

“Some doctors I know are jealous, and a lot of my doctor friends are happy for me. A lot of them, I think, are waiting to see how well we do,” he said.

Kirk talked about his practice and how the changes have improved working conditions for the doctor and patient care.

QUESTION:Did you always expect to go into medicine?

Kirk: My father was an ophthalmologist in Melbourne, Dr. Phillip Kirk. He never forced it, but I pretty much mentally decided it when I was in high school or maybe junior high. I was fascinated by learning medicine. I had a really good anatomy class in high school dissecting pigs and some didn’t like it and I thought I could do this.

Q:When did you choose family practice as your specialty?


About Concierge Medicine Journal

Concierge Medicine Journal (CMJ) curates breaking concierge medicine news, and editorial opinion on a wide variety of topics relevant to the practice of Concierge Medicine.

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