Tuscaloosa Embraces Concierge Medicine

Concierge Medicine

Dr. Steve Lovelady talDr. Steve Lovelady talks with Justin Little at his office in Northport. Two primary care physicians in Tuscaloosa are shifting to concierge medicine, offering their services to a limited number of patients with an annual fee of around $1,600 a year for more attention and shorter wait times. But, that could mean fewer physicians to see at the rest of the population, causing difficulty in a county that already has a shortage of primary care physicians. ks with Justin Little at his office in Northport, Ala. Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. Two primary care physicians in Tuscaloosa are shifting to concierge medicine, offering their services to a limited number of patients with an annual fee of around $1,600 a year for more attention and shorter wait times. But, that could mean fewer physicians to see at the rest of the population, causing difficulty in a county that already has a shortage of primary care physicians. Dusty Compton | Tuscaloosa News.

A growing model of health care has now come to Tuscaloosa.

An estimated 5,500 doctors in the United States are concierge doctors — physicians who charge patients an annual fee, usually ranging from $600 to $1,800 a year or more, in exchange for shorter wait times and more access for care.

In Tuscaloosa, Dr. David Fernandez, who has spent the last 15 years in urgent care, began offering a concierge practice in January. Dr. Steve Lovelady, who has practiced primary care medicine in Tuscaloosa since 1987, will convert to a VIP concierge model on May 20.

“With today’s health care, there are fewer and fewer physicians who are seeing more and more patients,” Fernandez said.

That means physicians in traditional practices may not have a time slot available. In turn, patients wait longer to be seen or must go to an urgent care center or emergency room for care.

“Patients are now deciding their time is important and valuable,” Fernandez said.

While a concierge medicine practice means shorter wait times and more access for patients, it also means a lighter patient load for physicians, which means concierge doctors have time to get to know their patients and to focus on preventive medicine, Lovelady said.

A traditional primary care doctor in the U.S. will see between 2,500 to 3,000 patients a year, while most concierge doctors keep the number of patients to 600 or fewer.

READ FULL STORY HERE

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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