The rise in corporatization in medicine continues to upend the proud tradition of physicians in private practice who have long provided outstanding care according to their deep-seated and carefully nurtured vision.
Liberty, freedom, independence…all deeply treasured concepts that define the American ethos. Yet in medicine, the rise in corporatization continues to upend the proud tradition of physicians in private practice who have long provided outstanding care according to their deep-seated and carefully nurtured vision. It’s an inescapable reality that today nearly seven in ten doctors are employed by a hospital or corporation; many with parent companies that have the authority to set limits on services from office visits to hospital stays. Unsurprisingly, this trend has not liberated physicians from concerns with administrative burdens, dissatisfied patients and their own persistent burnout, but has instead exacerbated them. Indeed, former AMA President Dr. Barbara McAneny recently revealed that what she hears from employed physicians “all across the country is that they're spending their evenings clicking in their electronic medical records.”
However, for a rapidly growing group of physicians determined to retain or regain their independence by changing to the Specialdocs’ concierge medicine model, words like ‘freedom’ and ‘autonomy’ are frequent descriptors, along with ‘life-changing’ and ‘gratitude.’ As the CEO of Specialdocs, a pioneering concierge practice conversion and management services company I too, am grateful for the opportunity to support these extraordinary doctors in recasting their narrative and realizing the joy of caring for patients without being bound to arduous rules and regulations. Integral to our approach is enormous respect for the individual voice of each physician client. The vision and mission of a Specialdocs-affiliated doctor remains theirs to craft and hone, as does every aspect of the way they run their practice, from membership fees and office visit length to specialist referrals and advanced testing.
I’ve had the rare privilege of witnessing firsthand the liberating impact of concierge medicine on our clients’ lives. In the spirit of Independence Day, I share why it continues to inspire dedicated healers who value above all the freedom to practice their way.
Freedom from the hamster wheel of traditional, fee-for-service medicine
“Every year the volume requirements at my hospital system increased, while compensation decreased. It was all about the RVUs and bundled care and seeing a certain number of patients within a set period of time. My change to concierge medicine has been a wonderful experience. Now, with every patient encounter I am reminded of why I got into medicine – to make patients healthy and happy. My only regret: I wish I would have done this sooner.” - Dr. M.H., concierge family medicine
Freedom from a broken healthcare system
“We currently have not a healthcare system, but a sick care system. There's very little emphasis placed on prevention and developing a trusting relationship with a patient over time. We emphasize joint decision-making in medicine but no one actually has time to spend listening to the patient's concerns and create the dialogue needed. The system is broken and you can't practice medicine in a way that a patient needs. It became clear to us that the only model that works is concierge medicine. We feel very, very fortunate to be able to maintain our independence and practice this way. That notion of gratitude that comes not only from me but from my patients who value this wonderful approach to healing, caring and improving their health span, not just their life span.” - Dr. B.B., five-physician concierge cardiology group
Freedom from burnout
“Physicians who feel trapped and starting to feel burnout in any way, shape or form should explore concierge medicine…give yourself permission and believe that you deserve the time to really connect with your patients, be present with family and friends and give back to the world. I now look forward to my day, and at the end of it I know I really impacted people in a way couldn’t before. We all have our own way of practicing, something unique we want to build on, and this is the chance to make that happen.” - Dr. B.A., concierge internal medicine
Freedom to restore your work-life balance
“What really pushed me to make the transition to concierge medicine was the day I was supposed to do a talk about blood sugar at my son’s school. I had everything ready, but I couldn't go because I couldn't reschedule my patients, and I had to see them. When I came home from work, my son said ‘Mommy, I think you like your patients better than us.’ I started crying and said ‘That's it. I'm done. I need to change.’ Within three and a half months, I transitioned my practice and I never looked back. I have time with patients, time for myself, time for my family, time to attend clinical meetings, time to keep up to date with medical literature. I’ll never go back to my old practice.” - Dr. D.A., concierge endocrinologist
Freedom to change
“If you feel that you don't have enough time to see the patients you'd like to see, you don't feel like you have the balance in your life that allows you to be the best doctor that you can be, and at the end of the day, there may not be enough time to take care of the people you love in your life…those add up to reasons to think about a change. And for me, that change was concierge medicine. I'm really grateful that I have patients who find value in what we're trying to do – to really listen, solve problems, help them stay well or get well if needed. Personally, one of the biggest changes I have observed since making the transition to this model, and my nurse, family, and friends would probably agree, is that we all laugh a lot more than we used to. And laughter is good medicine.”- Dr. M.G., concierge internal medicine
Freedom to reclaim your vision of care
“I went into medicine because I really liked the way that it was supposed to be - an old-time doctor who patients could call any time. I wanted to really get to know the patient, not just their medical diagnoses, but their emotional and mental health. But as my practice grew, the visits became shorter and rushed, and I didn’t have the time or energy to care for patients the way I had always envisioned. Since changing to concierge medicine, I'm able to practice like the old-time doctor again and my love for medicine is off the charts.” – Dr. A.G., concierge internal medicine.
It seems fitting to end with a quote from another doctor – Dr. Seuss – who perfectly captures the essence of independence: “You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go.” If practicing as an independent concierge physician is a change you want to explore, I encourage you to take the first step here, with Specialdocs.
A happy, healthy Fourth of July to all!
Terry Bauer is the CEO of Specialdocs. Since 2002 the company has worked to transform physicians’ professional lives with a change to its industry-leading, sustainable concierge medicine model. Specialdocs provides all the essentials and support for a successful concierge medicine practice throughout the transition process and well beyond.