New style of medical practice promises greater attention, more personal care

Charles Oliver

Call it the wave of the future or maybe a return to ancient practice. Dr. Stephen Carson’s medical practice sounds a little like both.

Carson sees a limited number of patients (600), people willing to pay more for an enhanced level of service. That gives him the ability to really spend time with each one. And he’s on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“They have my cell number. They can contact me by email, or my answering service,” he said.

Last year, Carson joined with MDVIP, a national network of doctors who practice what is called personalized or concierge medicine.

“I was looking for a better way to take better care of my patients,” he said. “I’ve always enjoyed spending time with my patients. I was looking for ways to spend more time and really focus on preventive medicine. That’s the type of practice I’ve always had, so this was really just a continuation and improvement on what I had been doing.”

Born and raised in Dalton, Carson earned a bachelor of science degree in microbiology from the University of Georgia and a medical degree from Mercer University before returning to Dalton to practice internal medicine in 2000.

Internal medicine is similar to family medicine. The largest difference is that family medicine typically involves some pediatric care but internists see only patients 14 and older.

“Dalton has an outstanding medical community, and I always knew that I would return here to practice,” he said.

So how does personalized medicine differ from a traditional practice?

“There’s a $135-a-month fee,” Carson said. “That covers an annual wellness exam, a very detailed, comprehensive physical exam. We perform an EKG. We perform a spirometry. We perform an ABI, a circulation test. We give a vision screening and a hearing screening,” he said.

Based on that exam, Carson creates a personalized wellness plan for each patient. Traditional services are billed to insurance.

“Really, all the patient is paying for is that exam. All the additional aspects of this program are just part of my medical practice,” he said.

The other parts of the practice include a strong relationship with Carson. In addition to being on call 24 hours a day, Carson says that patients generally can schedule appointments on the same day or the next day they call. They generally don’t have to wait in a waiting room, but office visits can take 30 minutes or more.

“I really wanted to build that doctor-patient relationship, and that takes time,” he said. “The hours can be very long, but I want to see my patients healthier and happier, and I get to do that. It’s exciting to see patients respond and change their lifestyles in response to dietary modifications and exercise programs we have recommended.”


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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