Physicians in boutique practices should clearly disclose the terms of their relationship to patients, according to a report that will be considered by the AMA House of Delegates at its annual meeting in Chicago, to begin Saturday.
Boutique practices, which the AMA calls "retainer practices," offer longer visits, continuous availability by phone or pager, counseling for healthy lifestyles and other customized services in exchange for an additional fee.
In its report, the AMA Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs recommends that boutique physicians must present the terms of the retainer contract "in an honest manner and must not exert undue pressure on patients to agree to the arrangement."
The contract should "separate clearly special services and amenities from reimbursable medical services," it adds.
The physician should disclose any "knowledge that the patient's healthcare insurance coverage will be compromised by the retainer contract."
Also, "it is important that a retainer contract not be promoted as a promise for more or better diagnostic and therapeutic services," the report says.
It adds that physicians who continue to have nonboutique patients "most be particularly diligent to offer the same standard of diagnostic and therapeutics services to both categories of patient."
And if physicians drop traditional patients to start a boutique practice, they must facilitate transfer of those patients to other physicians, the report advises.