We all make choices.
Tonight, my wife and I had the choice of :
- taking West Coast Swing dance lessons and dance late at Club Rush or
- we could go to the Ledges Country Club Manor House and listen to a presentation by our physicians at Gleneagles Family Medicine Associates (GFMA).
We chose the latter.
Not necessarily the road less traveled (cue poem here, of course)…
|Robert Frost (1874–1963). Mountain Interval. 1920.|
|1. The Road Not Taken|
…but interesting nonetheless/all the same.
I don’t have my notes from the meeting with me at this moment but I have in my thoughts the major details.
Basically, our physicians have decided to start a concierge-style medical practice, accepting 150 patients at $1800 per annum for each patient who will receive preferred physician attention, detailed annual executive-level physical exam, the physician’s personal cell phone number, an email-style chat system, and a medical profile on a USB stick, to name but a few of the perks of a monetarily-tiered medical services program.
We heard the managing partner, Wayne Lipton, give a smooth talk about the program to a room full of a few hundred GFMA patients. Jim Gottlieb, senior VP was there as well as an assistant, Robin, who gets to input all the information gathered in cards handed out tonight and tomorrow morning to gauge further interest in case all 150 slots per physician are not immediately filled up after this week’s set of three presentations to about 1000 of the 6000+ GFMA active patients.
GFMA has three physicians, one of whom will retire in a few months.
The concierge program will rearrange the remaining two physicians’ schedules such that they spend 25% of their day with concierge patients, spending 30 minutes to an hour (or plus for physical exams) per patient, leaving the remaining 75% of their time for the regular, non-concierge, “traditional” patient visits (i.e., a few minutes per patient, 6+ per hour).
The practice will probably add another nurse practitioner.
My first reaction was to tell myself, “Hey, you know what. I’ve seen the nurse practitioners more often than I’ve seen my new MD (who took over when my family practice MD retired a year or so ago). I’m in pretty good shape. What will I gain with concierge service?”
My wife agreed but pointed out the fact we are “haves,” not “have-nots.” Isn’t it in our best interest to buy our way into a system where we get more personal attention now before the family practice medical services industry moves completely to a concierge-only system to see an MD or an outpatient clinic system for non-MD attention?
The question I have to ask myself: what does an MD know that a nurse practitioner doesn’t? What does the MD do for me that a nurse practitioner, surgeon’s/physician’s assistant, nurse or medical technician can’t?
We humans have the gift of multicompartmentalising ourselves. We can separate theory from fact.
I can believe wholeheartedly in the value of community, marriage, church and a system of government/capitalism while at the same time arguing wholeheartedly against its existence in order to strengthen its core values, forcing members of the community to more strongly defend their positions to both theirs and my advantage.
It’s like they say: What’s the point of having a heaven if there’s not a hell as a wickedly evil alternative to keep the stray sheep in line?
Oh, to be sure, the cynic in me questions the added value of the management/services team that CCP claims to be, much the way I question the value of any one charity and its administrative cost/fees.
But by golly, I love a good story and even more so when it’s tied to free market forces at work.
Let’s hold a modern-day tent revival and scream those ugly words to the unitiated and insecure. “Medicare! Medicaid! Obamacare!” We can’t scare people directly so we use data and statistics about the decline of the family practice physician and the fact that the general population is aging, falling apart at the seams, especially if we don’t get personal attention of a person approved by the American Medical Association to hang up a shingle and start voodoo dances to perform miraculous healings, handing out prescriptions for magic beans blessed and issued by Big Pharma.
Seriously, though, when I want the attention of an MD at 2 in the morning, I’m going to have him/her on my speed dial list. If it costs $1800/year to keep that number handy, then so be it.
Five bucks a day! It’s the latte effect.
Now, will five dollars a day make me healthier?
Not necessarily, but it will make me think twice about my health. After all, if I take my health more seriously by spending $150 per month for better/longer medical attention, don’t I want to take care of myself, pay more attention to me?
So, despite my misgivings, my cynicism, my longterm view of what is or is not important to me, when I go to GFMA tomorrow to get some places on my ears removed, my wife and I are going to drop about four large ones to move us up in the medical queue.
I’m sure it won’t be long before we go to a cash-only family physician system, leaving the Medicare/Medicaid/Obamacare patients with the outpatient clinics served admirably and honourably by non-MD staff.
In that case, statistics will bear out who’s healthier and who wants to be.
At the end of my life, only I can say for sure whether paying extra for personalised MD care added to my quality of life.
Affordable medical care — giving me more time and money to spend on the hobbies and [a]vocations that make me happy.
Here’s hoping that our physicians can get back to their pre-EMR number of traditional patients per hour.
There’s time for a dance lesson tomorrow!
[NOTE: this blog entry is written with the subcultural tone set in tonight’s presentation]