Concierge medicine is not an all-or-nothing proposition

November 2, 2020
Josh Brown, M.D.
Josh Brown, M.D.

Concierge medicine is simply better medicine all around — and I didn’t have to abandon my patients.

Before I transitioned to a concierge model nearly two years ago, I had spent the last 17 years serving the community of Santa Fe, New Mexico. I never said no to anybody. As a result, I ended up with an older, sicker patient panel and was making countless hospital and office visits. I was working harder than I could have imagined, but had little to show for it financially.
While I enjoyed working with my patients, the situation eventually became untenable. I had no time for myself and no work-life balance. There just weren’t enough hours in the day to provide the kind of care my patients needed and the attention my family deserved.

At first, I was reluctant to transition to concierge care, because I didn’t like the all-or-nothing approach of most concierge conversion partners. I wasn’t ready to give up my patients of 17 years and start from scratch again. Then I met with SignatureMD. Their segmented model was different. It allowed me to transition to concierge care for my patients who enrolled as members, while providing the option of keeping my nonmember patients.

With the help of SignatureMD, the conversion process turned out to be surprisingly easy. I simply explained to my patients that this new model is the way medicine should be — with longer visits and a doctor who isn’t constantly running late and who will be there for them nights and weekends. Everything went smoothly, and I was able to keep almost all of my patients.

For physicians considering a transition to concierge medicine, my advice is that, even though the financial rewards can be substantial, it’s not just about the money and the lifestyle. Those things are nice, but they don’t compare with how good it feels to do a better job. My professional life is so much more satisfying now. I’m making my patients feel better more quickly, and I’m no longer concerned about how to pay my bills.

In fact, the COVID-19 pandemic hit not long after I transitioned. Unlike many practices, I didn’t have to shut down. I had the financial flexibility and time to secure additional personal protective equipment, add ultraviolet lights and implement thermal image scanning at check-in. I was the first physician in the area with antigen and antibody testing. Even though these items were not reimbursable or reimbursement was unclear, I was able to dive right in and do what was right. Time and money were no longer issues.

The cost of concierge care shouldn’t be an issue for patients, either. They don’t have to be financially well-off. The annual fee is about the same as what most patients pay for their cable bill.

In my experience, concierge medicine is simply better medicine all around. I didn’t have to abandon my patients. I can do the right thing without worrying about costs, and I no longer feel pressured. In fact, my only regret about making the concierge transition is that I waited too long to do it. Given what I know now, I’d have done it much sooner.

Josh Brown, M.D., is board certified in internal medicine and pediatrics. He practices in Santa Fe, New Mexico.