The most beautiful thing about concierge medicine is the individualized care members receive.
At a time when many U.S. physicians carry patient loads in the thousands and time constraints limit visits to just minutes, concierge physicians are able to set aside quality time for every member. They know each patient by name, develop relationships with them, and investigate their health concerns thoroughly. But the only way to maintain such a high standard of care is to limit the number of members per doctor.
So if a concierge practice wants to serve more patients, they have to add more physicians. Otherwise, they’ll run into all the same time constraints typical of a conventional medical practice.
This is why Griffin Concierge Medical stays in touch with like-minded physicians in the concierge space and remains receptive to conventional doctors interested in the concierge model of care. We’re actively looking to expand our capacity by bringing on additional physicians who share our goal of providing the best care possible to our members.
Why Multi-Physician Concierge Practices Aren’t as Common… Yet
Concierge medicine is still in its infancy. As in most industries, that infancy started when someone saw a need in the market and had the entrepreneurial spirit to forge a new path to meet that need. In this case, those entrepreneurs were doctors, meeting the need of patients for higher quality care — and their own need to provide it.
There were no corporations those first concierge doctors could go work for. They had to start their own new practices and figure things out themselves. They had to be physicians and entrepreneurs.
Today, the market has responded enthusiastically to this new model of care, and demand is growing. But you can imagine that attracting and hiring other physicians would be daunting for an entrepreneur whose first love is really caring for patients. It’s outside their comfort zone, so it’s taken some time to get started.
Growing Our Team Adds to The Member Experience
Physicians and patients alike have a fear that growing a concierge practice will lead to a dip in the quality of patient care.
Generally speaking, doctors are empathetic people. We got into medicine to help others, to change the world. And if somebody needs us, we have a hard time saying no.
I personally struggled with this as GCM grew. As more people heard about the practice, more people wanted care. And I couldn’t turn them away; I wanted to help. Eventually, though, I realized this wasn’t sustainable. I was being pushed beyond my limits, and my ability to care for members the way I wanted to was starting to suffer.
Since turning people away wasn’t an option, the only viable next step was to get help. That’s when we reached out to Dr. Debbie St. Clair, who joined the practice and proved how effective two like-minded physicians working together could be. We were able to serve many more members while maintaining the same level individualized care we’d set out to provide.
That first step worked so well that we decided to keep the model going. Each of our physicians sees a set number of members, allowing them to develop personal relationships with each one and provide them with the highest level of care.
In the end, adding more physicians didn’t take away from the member experience; it actually protected the member experience and allowed us to provide it for even more people.
Benefits of Having Multiple Physicians
Having multiple physicians in a practice allows for the sharing of knowledge and experience among doctors, of course, but it also provides time for a less obvious avenue for new insights — the members themselves.
We take care of some incredibly talented, intelligent, well-read individuals. And in a practice that gives each physician the time to listen to our members, we really benefit from the new ideas and resources they bring to our attention.
Conventional practices don’t have time to hear suggestions from patients, let alone research those ideas. It’s strictly top-down medicine, dictated by what academia, Pharma, insurance, or the government says is good for the patient.
But multi-physician concierge practices have the time and freedom to listen to members’ ideas and discoveries, which can be amazingly useful from an innovation perspective. We then bring in research and expertise from the profession to balance the two.
There have been many times when one of our members shared a resource or idea that turned out to be incredibly useful for all our physicians and other members as well.
Every physician has their own experiences in medicine and their own network of specialists, facilities, etc. that they’ve worked with in the past. In a multi-physician practice, doctors can collaborate on care, ask for input, and verify recommendations with one another on the spot. The solo practitioner only has their own experience to pull from.
In multi-physician practices, so much innovation comes through the idea sharing mentioned above. Again, when we have the time to listen to our members, we discover many new insights we’d never heard of previously.
For example, Big Pharma does an excellent job of marketing to patients — not to physicians. So many times, members know about a new drug on the market before we do. When they bring a new medication up, we’re able to look into it and find out whether it could be useful for them or for others. The same goes for innovations like new wearable technology and even new screening tests.
We have three primary criteria for bringing new innovation to our practice:
- Will it benefit the members? If not, there’s no point.
- Will it benefit the doctors? In other words, is it actually useful in patient care?
- Will it benefit the practice? If we can’t find an effective way to incorporate an innovation into our practice, it could just end up causing confusion and unnecessary frustration.
Growth protects the Future
Growth isn’t scary. In fact, growth protects the future of the practice and the health of our members.
If COVID taught us anything, it’s that life happens. And it happens to physicians, too. Doctors get sick just like anyone else. They have accidents and family emergencies, and (on a more positive note) they take vacations.
In the past, my biggest fear was: What if something happens to me? What would happen to my patients?
But I don’t have to worry about that anymore. When I was recovering from COVID, I knew a team of able colleagues at GCM had my back and were providing top-notch care in my absence.
Having like-minded physicians on board is the best way to protect our members in the event that something happens to one of us. And it gives our patients the peace of mind that they’ll experience the same high level of care, no matter what.