More and more doctors are moving into a private model of care, which enables a physician-patient relationship to develop and, ultimately, provides better treatment. In fact, the physicians’ staffing firm Merritt Hawkins found that between 2013 and 2016, roughly 10 percent of doctors will move into a subscription-based service.
If you are considering switching from your traditional practice to a private physician, there are a few things to consider. Following these steps will help to ensure you find someone with whom you are comfortable.
1. Review Your Options
On a national level, there is no shortage of private care physicians. However, you may be limited based on where you live. It is important to do your research so you know how many doctors in your area offer the kind of treatment you want. You can use a networking site, like the American Academy of Private Physicians or Privatephysicians.com, to search for a doctor in your area.
2. Think About Your Needs
Before you meet with anyone, it is important for you to understand what your own needs are. This will include taking into account the needs of anyone else in your home, such as a spouse or dependents. Does anyone have any chronic conditions? Would home visits be necessary? In private medicine, there really is no one-size-fits-all solution. Private physicians tend to offer customized care, but each doctor may have a different approach.
You might want to think about if you want a practice that focuses on holistic medicine and prevention. If you or someone in your home has a condition that requires specialist visits, you may want to look for a doctor who is well networked and can help to coordinate that care.
3. Understand the Fee Structure
Within the private care model, there are different ways that a practice will handle insurance. When private medicine began, the intention was to eliminate the need for insurance. Instead, the patient directly paid the physician a fee, usually on a monthly basis that covers service virtually anytime and for anything. There are some private practices that will, however, accept insurance in addition to a membership fee or retainer.
4. Meet With Physicians
Once you have narrowed down your options, it is important to meet with the doctors to get a feel for how each operates. It is important to schedule these appointments when you are healthy; you do not want to wait until you are sick to make a decision regarding your future medical needs. Private physicians recognize the importance of the doctor-patient relationship and will welcome the opportunity to meet with you and discuss your needs.
5. Ask Questions
One of the benefits of switching to a private care model is that you no longer need to rush through your doctor’s appointments. You get the opportunity to speak at length with the physician about any issues you are having. When you are meeting with a doctor, make sure you ask questions that will help you make your decision, such as:
- What is your approach to treatment?
- How do you prevent health problems from starting in your patients?
- What is your fee structure?
- How is your practice different from other private practices?
- What is the typical wait time for an appointment?
Ask how many patients the doctor sees. You will find that in a private model, patient panels are far smaller.
6. Decide If It’s Right for You
Private medicine is surprisingly affordable and often gives patients better comprehensive care. While not everyone will determine that the model fits their needs, many people find that the personalized approach goes above and beyond what they need from a physician.
Physicians in private medicine often report having a greater job satisfaction, and it is easy to see why. Through working closely with patients and giving them the time and attention they deserve, doctors get a chance to treat the individual comprehensively instead of during episodic visits. When you are choosing among these physicians, take your time to make sure you find the one who matches your needs.