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Concierge Medicine Trend Continues and Creates New Clients for Clinical Pathology Laboratories

MDVIP and similar concierge medicine companies are attracting patients willing to pay for improved access to physicians

Concern about healthcare reforms and lower reimbursement are motivating ever more physicians to consider practicing concierge medicine. This is a practice model where the patient will pay the physician an annual retainer in return for greater access and more personal attention from the physician.

Pathologists and clinical laboratory managers may be surprised to learn that the number of doctors who have moved to the concierge medicine practice model rose fivefold in the last five years! That statistic was published in a New York Times article about the growth of the concierge medicine marketplace.

Procter & Gamble Acquired MDVIP in 2009

No less a respected corporation than Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG) has staked out a major presence in concierge medicine. In 2007, P&G acquired a 48% stake in MDVIP, a concierge medicine company that was formed in 2000. Then, in December 2009, Procter & Gamble acquired 100% ownership in MDVIP for an undisclosed sum. This acquisition was reported by Dark Daily. (See “Boutique Medicine Venture Generates Marketing Intelligence for Procter & Gamble”), April 5, 2010.)

MDVIP continues to grow. It now serves 180,000 patients. It has 450 affiliated physicians in 38 states and the District of Columbia. On its website, MDVIP boasts that its “annual membership renewals are at 92% and patient satisfaction is at 94% or above. Patients in MDVIP-affiliated practices have fewer hospitalizations than non-MDVIP patients with 75% reductions for Medicare beneficiaries and 65% reductions for those with commercial insurance.”

These patient outcomes, if true, hint at why MDVIP is enjoying patient renewal rates of 92%. These patients typically will pay $1,500 to $1,800 a year for the extended care they receive from the MDVIP physicians. The company also bills the patients’ insurance companies for procedures.

American Academy of Private Physicians logo

According to the New York Times, the number of physicians now practicing in a concierge medicine practice has increased five-fold since 2006. This is trend which should be watched by clinical laboratory executives. In recent years, the American Academy of Private Physicians was founded to support concierge medicine practices. (Logo by American Academy of Private Physicians.)

Another similar company is Concierge Choice Physicians (CCP), based in Rockville Centre, New York. CCP distinguishes itself from other concierge medicine companies by offering what it describes as a “hybrid model which enables doctors to practice both traditional and concierge-style medicine within a single practice. Under a hybrid model, typically about 50 to 150 patients choose to join the concierge model.” CCP reports that it currently is involved with more than 190 medical practices in 19 states and the District of Columbia.

Even the health technology gurus are watching the concierge medicine phenomenon. Dave Chase is CEO of Avado.com, a health technology company, and founder of Microsoft’s health business. He recently blogged about MedLion, an innovative patient care model founded by Samir Qamar, M.D., in Monterey, California. Qamar had originally set up a concierge medicine practice and he still serves as House Doctor for the famed Pebble Beach Resorts.

According to Chase, Qamar wanted to help uninsured and underinsured individuals access basic healthcare. As a result, the MedLion model offers a price point of $49 per month and $10 per visit. “For the same amount they may pay in co-pays with an insurance policy, we can offer complete primary care without the added cost burden of insurance,” Dr. Qamar stated in the Chase article.

Concierge Medicine Practices Would Be Good Clients for Clinical Labs

As the information presented above demonstrates, there is momentum behind the concept of concierge medicine. Intuitively, it would seem that a concierge medicine practice would make a good customer for clinical laboratory services. Physicians in these practices are motivated to spend more time with patients and have an incentive to be proactive in helping these patients detect disease early and do a better job managing their chronic conditions.

It would be expected that much of the medical laboratory testing ordered by these physicians would be patient self-pay, since these are patients who are proactive about their health and are already paying out of pocket to be part of a concierge medicine medical practice.

The other intriguing data is that a majority of concierge medicine physicians are telling researchers that they enjoy improved financial stability with this medical practice model. A survey conducted by the Concierge Medicine Research Collective, an Atlanta-based independent healthcare research center, showed that nearly 60% of all current concierge physicians are doing “better” financially than one year earlier, while 29% of the respondents indicated no financial change, and 13% of surveyed physicians said their finances were worse.

This collective experience points to continued growth in the concierge medicine practice model. In turn, that could create an opportunity for innovative clinical laboratories to target these physicians with medical laboratory testing services that contribute to earlier and more accurate diagnosis—thus earning the loyalty of physicians in these concierge medicine practices.

—Pamela Scherer McLeod

Related Information:

Two-Tiered Medical Care for Haves and Have-Nots: As doctors leave the system, patients scramble to find care

Putting Your Doctor, or a Whole Team of Them, on Retainer

Concierge medicine companies registering more physicians

Are Concierge Medical Services on the Upswing?

The Most Important Organization in Silicon Valley That No One Has Heard About

Boutique Medicine Venture Generates Marketing Intelligence for Procter & Gamble

More Doctors Consider Concierge Medicine as Healthcare Reform Looms

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