2024 will be a year of unending change — and a time of exponential growth for concierge medicine, inspired by doctors seizing the opportunity to forge deeper connections and align their priorities in a post-pandemic world.
As 2024 begins to unfold, full of uncertainty and shifting tides in just about every industry, health care is no exception. Older physicians are retiring in record numbers, younger doctors searching for a way to avoid moral injury, employed physicians are seeking autonomy and independence, and the promise or peril of artificial intelligence in medicine will remain an ongoing, urgent question. Of this we can be certain: 2024 will be a year of unending change — and a time of exponential growth for concierge medicine, inspired by doctors seizing the opportunity to forge deeper connections and align their priorities in a post-pandemic world.
This begins with the first wave of concierge physicians, soon ready to retire and looking for worthy successors to care for their valued patients. True pioneers in breaking through the barriers of traditional, fee-for-service medicine later in their career, they were able to extend their years in practice with the more measured and maintainable pace of the Specialdocs concierge model. When I joined Specialdocs almost a decade ago, the average age of our affiliated concierge doctors was 62 for men, 52 for women.
Coming up is a generation not willing to wait; now the average age at conversion is 51 for male physicians and 41 for females. In fact, several of our affiliated physicians are still in their 30s. The impact will be profound, opening the doors to physicians who will thankfully never endure the all-too-common experience of burnout, forced by a dysfunctional health care system to make choices not always in the best interests of their patients. As Specialdocs client Dr. John M. realized at age 37: “I’m only human. I wish I could provide the most in-depth care possible to as many people as possible. But I’ve come to terms with the fact that we are all limited to a certain bandwidth, or it becomes unsustainable.” Converting to concierge medicine early on will bring him enormous satisfaction professionally and personally for decades to come, and benefit his patients with remarkable care and attention.
Also increasingly drawn to concierge medicine are hospital-
employed physicians, burdened by overwhelming administrative tasks and patient volume demands. A client who recently joined a successful concierge practice after 15 years as a hospital employee said: “I was frustrated, always figuring out how to care for a challenging patient at the moment of the appointment, with no time to prepare beforehand or follow up afterward. With time now to do both, I’m finding those patients are not really challenging at all.”
Where does AI fit into our year of change? Vividly described by Google CEO Sundar Pichai as “probably the most important thing humanity has worked on,” AI is already starting to streamline time-intensive administrative and insurance management tasks for physician offices. On the horizon is harnessing AI’s predictive powers to identify effective medications, expedite diagnoses, and enable early, life-saving interventions for patients at high risk. Not coincidentally, AI’s evolution will likely be impelled by younger, more tech-savvy concierge physicians, who will have the time and inclination to explore and adopt its most useful capabilities. Promising indeed, but I believe that AI’s most important contribution will align perfectly with the enduring mission of concierge medicine: restoring time for physicians to provide care grounded in the irreplaceable long-term connection with their patients.
I encourage you to learn more in 2024 about the rewards of practicing medicine in the best way possible — your way.
Terry Bauer is CEO of Specialdocs Consultants, a pioneer in concierge medicine management services that has transformed physicians’ professional lives since 2002.