IRVINE, Calif., Feb. 22, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — As statistics continue to show that a majority of physicians remain in small practices and that the “exodus” of doctors to hospital employment has not met earlier predictions1, a new survey by Kareo, the leading provider of clinical and business management software to independent medical practices, reveals some key trends among independent practices that impact patient care. The survey, conducted in partnership with the American Association of Private Physicians (AAPP), found significantly, that a full third of respondents to the survey said they were considering the addition of a new payment method, such as concierge medicine, direct primary care, or another membership model, within the next three years. This has a significant effect on the way patients consume and pay for healthcare, as well as on the time physicians spend with patients, their available services, and their satisfaction level. Click HERE to download the concierge medicine and direct primary care survey report and infographic.
The study is based upon responses from 766 clinicians (described as MD, DO, PA, or NP), practice managers, and practice owners surveyed during the second half of 2016. Of these, 26% were in practices described as private (concierge medicine membership) versus 74% in conventional (fee-for-service) practices, and responses between the groups were compared.
“The majority of Americans continue to receive their care from independent medical practices due to the superior combination of patient focus, healthcare outcomes, and lower costs. Emerging practice models such as direct pay and concierge medicine represent exciting new ways to preserve and enhance the independent practice model,” said Rob Pickell, Chief Strategy Officer of Kareo. “These newer models also address patient and physician demand for more proactive care, care coordination, and wellness programs. For these reasons, these new practice models should be of interest to both healthcare professionals and patients.”
The study asked respondents their primary motivations for adding or converting to a direct primary care or other membership model for payment rather than a conventional fee-for-service practice model. Nearly 70 percent of physicians reported they wanted to spend more time with patients, making it the top response. The next two largest choices were improving work/life balance (41%) and separating from the insurance payer system (40%). This motivation seems to be born out in fact since the survey found that 75 percent of physicians in conventional fee-for-service practices spend 30 minutes or less with each patient, and nearly 60 percent have a patient panel of over 1,000. On the other hand, nearly all physicians employing concierge medicine membership or direct primary care payment models have a patient panel of less than 1,000, and 79 percent spend an average of 30 to 60 minutes or more on each patient visit.
Dr. Jeff Unger, MD, ABFM, FACE, has shifted his practice model and has realized these benefits. “Prior to transitioning to concierge medicine I was seeing 40 patients a day and unable to get home before 9:00pm each evening. Now, two years into this ‘experiment’ I have never been happier,” said Dr. Unger. “Our patients are thrilled with the care they receive and I look forward to creating health each day I head to the office. I am now seeing 10 to 12 patients each day, which allows me to intensively manage chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, mental illness, and even substance abuse.”
Conventional fee-for-service physicians also work, on average, about six hours more per week than concierge medicine or direct-pay physicians. In addition, conventional physicians spend nearly 12 hours on administrative work, while providers in concierge medicine practices spend 10 hours on administrative tasks.
Of those respondents using some variation of a concierge medicine membership model, 65 percent said the cost for membership was under $2,000 per year. Thirty-two percent of respondents have less than 25 percent of their patients in membership, while almost an equal number of respondents (30%) have all their patients in membership, with the balance somewhere in between. Fifty-seven percent participate in Medicare, 54 percent participate in health plans in network, and 58 percent are out-of-network with health plans. This shows a flexibility that works for both patients and doctors.
At the same time, no specific model appears to be a panacea since 35 percent of conventional practices said their biggest challenge is remaining financially viable, while 38 percent of the direct primary care private practices call recruiting new patients their single biggest hurdle.
Creating a concierge medicine membership or other private pay model seems to encourage innovation in patient care. Twenty-three percent of private practice respondents currently use telemedicine versus only 8 percent of conventional practices. Forty-two percent of private practice respondents plan to grow and expand the use of telemedicine, and 4 percent will switch entirely to telemedicine.
Click HERE to download the concierge medicine and direct primary care survey report and infographic.
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