Physician group practices considering a move to a concierge model must be prepared for the unique needs of patients willing to pay an upfront fee to receive more personal care, according to executives who run the Mayo Clinic's first concierge practice. “This is a very demanding group,” said Dr. Scott Gorman, vice chair and director of the practice, known as the Medallion Program, based in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Concierge customers demanding, doc says
Gorman and two co-presenters outlined Mayo's Medallion Program during an afternoon session Tuesday at the Medical Group Management Association's annual conference in Las Vegas. Gorman's co-presenters were Dr. Sean Glenn, associate administrator, and Ruth Ingall, the practice's operations manager.(To learn more about concierge medical practices, read the special report from the Oct. 24 issue of Modern Healthcare).
Mayo launched its inaugural concierge practice in 2009 and, according to Glenn, broke even in less than a year. The practice has three internists, two female and one male, and three nurses in addition to a patient liaison, operations manager, administrator and medical director. Patients pay an upfront annual fee of $5,000 to be a member of the program. Couples pay $8,000, and dependents cost an additional $2,500 each. The practice accepts only adult dependents and does not treat children. The practice has more than 600 patients with a maximum of 900, or 300 per physician. Glenn said the practice is profitable and generated $2.1 million in enrollment revenue in 2010.
“Time is the coin of the realm,” said Ingall, referring to the greatest benefit of the practice for patients and physicians. Patients receive “high-touch” personalized care, and physicians get to know their patients as individuals, not just as another patient walking through the door, she said.
For their membership fee, patients have access to the physicians 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They also have e-mail and cellphone access to the physicians around the clock. The practice, in turn, uses a sophisticated customer relations management system to track such things as patients' birthdays, nicknames, pets and administrative assistants.
The downside is the fact that patients' expectations continue to grow well beyond what the patients and physicians originally agreed to, according to Glenn.
“You'd be amazed at how much service ‘creep' there is,” Glenn said. “You have to go into this with your eyes wide open.”
Other unanticipated results include the fact that patients were sicker than Mayo had planned and older, Gorman said. That means patient visits are more frequent and take longer, he said.
Gorman said Mayo is developing a similar practice in at its Jacksonville, Fla., location, but it's having trouble attracting physicians to the model there.
“There is not an overwhelming eagerness to take this on,” he said, adding that younger physicians prefer to work “8 to 5” rather than being available to patients around the clock.
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