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Concierge Startup Success

While the concierge medical care model continues to grow in popularity, it is admittedly not yet found in every area of the United States. That may be quickly changing, though, if a recent success story is any indication.

Dr. Rebecca Plute, a native of western Pennsylvania, recently introduced the first concierge practice in Washington County, a mix of rural and small town communities located just south of Pittsburgh. The area has been hit hard economically in recent decades, going back to the days when the area’s steelworkers found themselves battling foreign competition. People in this part of the state have long learned to rely on themselves as well as traditional institutions that have weathered various economic crises.

So why would Plute, who went to high school in the area and obtained her medical education on the other side of the state, return to offer a groundbreaking model of medical care? Her answer is one you may have heard before, because it lies at the heart of why so many physicians and patients are gravitating toward concierge care: “The heart of good medicine is care,” she told the local newspaper. “I think the key to concierge medicine is the personal relationship between doctor and patient.”

One other aspect of Plute’s practice that deserves attention: Unlike many concierge providers, she will not require patients to come to her office. In the tradition of the country doctor of yesteryear, Plute will make house calls – likely a boon in an area of the state where people still live tens of miles from the nearest medical facility.

Patient fees will vary by age and will cover all visits to Plute’s office without using insurance providers – which will still be needed to cover expenses incurred outside of her practice.

Plute is also dedicated to educating her patients, having already given a presentation on diabetes, with two more on Alzheimer’s disease scheduled for March. And while Plute’s neck of the woods may be one of the slower-growing areas of the U.S. for concierge medicine, that doesn’t deter her one bit.

“For most concierge physicians, this is more like the medicine they want to practice,” she says.

We couldn’t agree more. To find out for yourself if concierge care is right for you, contact us for your complimentary consultation. Dr. Sheena Kumar is currently accepting new patients.


Menu Medicine’s Pros and Cons

Medicine_MainConsider the following scenario, and feel free to substitute or add your own, specific variants as they apply:

You’ve got a headache and some joint pain – nothing too serious, but you can’t know for sure at this point – and you’re about to embark on a multi-day business trip. The doctor’s office says it is booked solid for days on end, you’ve opted not to carry health insurance since you’re self-employed and it’s cost-prohibitive…and your options are quickly shrinking. What to do? Could a retail clinic, like those in major drugstores, be the answer? Do you really want to go the way of “menu medicine” at this juncture?

Maybe so, maybe not. You need to weigh the pros and cons of such a choice. Here are a few to consider, courtesy of an article from the Center for Advancing Health:

Appointment times are guaranteed, though as many as 9 in 10 patients walk in without one. Many clinics offer common services (at set prices) such as adult and childhood vaccinations, pregnancy tests and sports physicals. You can sign up to see health care specialists; many consultations can be over and done with in fewer than 15 minutes. The whole set-up is convenient – you don’t even need to lug along your whole medical history, though you should inform a clinician about medications you are taking, including supplements and vitamins. Many clinics accept health insurance, and all of your visits are documented.

On the flip side, you’re out of luck if you go to retail clinics looking to get treatment for more serious matters such as a broken foot, lacerated hand or even clinical depression.  There just isn’t room for essential equipment such as X-ray machines or ultrasound labs – which, by the way, are also expensive, which would raise the fees for menu services. And pain medications, such as for migraines, are often not able to be prescribed by retail clinics. You mostly need to know what’s already going on with you – or what basic service you need, such as a shot – for the retail model to work effectively.

Concierge care offers a better way: Quality, one-on-one time with your doctor, who can spend time talking with you and getting to know and monitor your health. And then help you implement a thorough course of action, from start to cure. Your complimentary consultation with Medicine Within Reach is only a phone call or email away. Dr. Sheena Kumar is currently accepting new patients.


Readers Respond to State of Medical Care

israel-express-medical-12A recent Los Angeles Times newspaper column that reflected fondly on the writer’s former doctor drew a number of responses from readers. Author Sandy Banks decided to share some of those responses in a subsequent column, as what she heard from her audience told her much about the state of medicine in America today.

The doctor that Banks lionized had opted to retire, she says, “rather than wrestle with forces turning the art of medicine into the science of numbers.”

Readers responded by telling Banks that she would not find another Marcus Welby-like physician, as the days of the compassionate primary care physician with time enough to spend and spare with his or her patients were long gone. Unless, of course, one happened to be very rich or just plain lucky.

Another problem facing the medical industry, readers pointed out, was electronic recordkeeping, which was a boon in many ways but also had become a cumbersome process that was driving good doctors from career paths that they loved.

“And I’m not the only patient with an outsized attachment to a doctor,” Banks writes. “Many of us care less about Yelp reviews and Ivy League diplomas than finding someone we trust to care for and about us.”

Many physicians couldn’t agree more. Some have sold their practices and become salaried employees of medical centers or clinics. The autonomy they sacrifice in making such a move is balanced by the lack of stresses such as problems with rent, personnel, malpractice and billing.

Other physicians have gone the concierge route, where formerly endless lists of patients are intentionally limited to those who are willing to pay the doctor for his or her services. 5-minute, insurance company-subsidized one-on-ones with a patient who has waited an hour or more past the scheduled appointment time are replaced by 30-minute visits that regularly occur on time. And the doctors are available 24/7/365, for fees that can be substantially less that what people ordinarily pay for a low-deductible insurance plan.

If concierge care sounds like the right move to you –as it would seem to for many of the above reporter’s readers – contact us for a complimentary consultation. Dr. Sheena Kumar is currently accepting new patients.