Develop a Plan to Invest in Your Health

Do you have a solid investment strategy in place? No, not the kind of investment strategy where you save money for a new home, new car, retirement, etc.—the kind of strategy where you are investing in your own personal health. Just like any other investment, the good habits you build right now in your life will give you an amazing return on investment (ROI) later in life. Here are the top five reasons your health should be a priority.

1: Lower Your Risk for Disease21513009_blog

Many of the leading causes of death in the United States today are preventable diseases—things like heart attack, stroke, and diabetes. Concierge doctors and other primary care provider know that patients who take time to practice healthy habits can actually reduce or reverse their chance of developing these deadly diseases—even if they start out in an unhealthy place. The key to lowering your risk for these problems is to invest some time and energy into healthier habits every day, such as:

  • Regular exercise
  • Healthy eating
  • Stress reduction
  • Adequate sleep
  • Annual physical examinations and preventive care

When you’re practicing healthy habits, studies have shown that you lower your risk for a wide range of health problems, including diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, depression, cancer, arthritis, and more.

2: Be Happy

Healthy lifestyles help with more than just controlling weight—they also help improve mood and make you feel happier. Being sick and tired all the time is stressful and taxing on your body, a situation that many private physicians know can lead to depression, anxiety, and other ailments. Regular exercise has been shown to increase endorphins in your brain and your body, which lifts your mood and helps you feel more relaxed. Plus the confidence you gain from feeling healthy and maintaining a healthy weight can make you feel more comfortable in your day-to-day activities.

3: Spot Potential Risks Early

When it comes to preventable or chronic diseases, there are often warning signs that might indicate someone is at risk. Part of living a healthy lifestyle includes going for regular check-ups with your primary care doctor, such as an annual physical, blood work, and screenings. Patients who see concierge physicians often get the added benefit of “executive-level” annual physicals, which can last up to an hour and include a comprehensive health review, lab tests, screenings, and consultation with your private physician. By investing the time to get these tests you can identify warning signs early that will help you control potential health problems before they become serious and chronic conditions.

4: Increase Energy Levels

Eating an unhealthy diet (filled with processed foods, and food high in sugar and fat) and living a sedentary lifestyle often results in a lack the energy to do the things you want to do. Making a small investment of time every day to cook healthy meals and exercise for about 30 minutes can pay dividends in increased energy levels. Eating well and exercising regularly also helps you sleep better, which can provide you with even more energy every day.

5: Live a Longer, Healthier Life

One of the biggest benefits of healthy habits is improved longevity. Think about it—you probably spend a lot of time planning and saving for retirement. These financial investments won’t be worth much if you are unable to appreciate your retirement years because you are always sick, you have to spend most of your savings on medical treatment, or because you don’t live long enough to enjoy it. If you spend as much time planning for and investing in your health as you do for your financial future, you have a much higher chance of living long enough to truly know the meaning of the “golden years.”

The key to investing in your health is developing good habits and consistently following through with your plans day after day, and year after year. Just like monetary investments, it requires time, discipline, and dedication, but eventually the ROI comes in the form of better health, increased lifespan, and improved overall happiness.

Find a private physician near you to discuss how you can invest in your health!

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How Technology is Advancing Patient Care


- High-tech tracking devices that send information directly from a patient to a physician.

- Virtual visits with a physician through teleconference technology.

- Smartphone apps that reduce long office wait times.

Is this the stuff of healthcare science fiction? It may seem like it, but the surge in Telehealth and an ever-increasing reliance on technology in our daily lives means that the switch to a more tech-driven healthcare future is probably not far off. In fact, Software Advice, a medical technology review firm, uncovered that many leaders in the healthcare industry are predicting that there will be some big changes within the next decade, and it’s important to know how it might impact concierge medicine.

The Shift in Patient Care

Advances in technology and research have improved medical care by providing better and more efficient patient treatments. However, the delivery of care has remained virtually unchanged for decades—patients schedule appointments, visit the office, manually fill out paperwork, discuss symptoms and other issues with the doctor, and then receive a diagnosis. Many primary care physicians are now looking at ways technology can improve this patient experience.

Gathering Information from Tracking Devices

Doctors-Will-Rely-On-WearablesThe market for “wearable tracking devices” (Nike FuelBand, FitBit, Jawbone) has gained momentum over the last couple of years. As this technology gains wider adoption and becomes more accurate, many people are looking for ways to use it beyond counting steps and calories. A survey by AnswerLab in March 2014 showed that 86 percent of respondents believe wearable technology will gain “mainstream adoption” in 1-3 years. About 85 percent of survey respondents saw the medical field as the industry where “wearables” could have the biggest impact outside of fitness.

These devices allow doctors to review heart rate, daily activity and exercise levels, blood pressure, and even sleep patterns for additional insight into patients’ lives. This could be especially useful for patients who are unaware they have a problem, and ignore warning signs until it becomes a severe health issue before seeking treatment.

Physicians can also aggregate the data from several patients to aid in researching the efficacy of drugs and treatments for specific conditions, such as high blood pressure or diabetes. Since concierge physicians aim to provide a higher level of care, this advancement could help developing better treatment for overall wellness.

Reducing Waiting Times

Another prediction for the future of healthcare is a reduction in wait times through the use of smartphone apps, online records and check-in, and quick diagnostic screenings before the patient gets into the exam room that maximize time spent with the doctor. For most concierge physicians a future with reduced wait times is already here, but offering things like online check-in and smartphone apps that alert the physician’s office to the patient’s arrival can streamline concierge office visits.

The Rise of Telehealth

Telehealth (telemedicine) has been on the rise in rural communities for several years, offering a chance for patients to see doctors even if the nearest provider is several hundred miles away. As this technology becomes more viable, many believe it can be useful for routine check-ups.

Concierge physicians are already ahead of this curve, connecting with patients and answering questions through email, phone calls, and online. While a phone call is not a substitute for the comprehensive annual check-ups, telemedicine can offer solutions for quick check-ups, minor ailments, and prescription renewals. Telehealth can be especially beneficial when combined with other emerging technologies—such as wearable tracking devices—so doctors can “see” what’s going on with a patient without “seeing” the patient in person.

Comprehensive Medical Records

Many patients today want to have more control over the care they receive, but notes from the physician tend to be brief (for practical data input purposes) and may not capture everything a patient is experiencing. New technology could allow patients to input information prior to an appointment, which the doctor can use to ask relevant questions, add notes, and chart appropriate care.

Concierge physicians often place greater emphasis on the partnership between care provider and patient, making this technological advancement a natural fit. This gives the physician an idea of what the patient is experiencing (in his or her own words) and allows for more time during appointments to find solutions rather than collect data and take notes.

Advancing Care Through Technology

As technological advances hit the market it’s important for physicians to examine the ways they can provide a higher level of care. Listening to patients’ needs and being open to changes can contribute to improved healthcare for patients and providers alike.




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Not All Doctors are Sick and Tired of their Job?

The choice to pursue a career in medicine has always been an honorable and noble professional choice, but concierge-medicinetoday’s primary care physicians are more and more unhappy with the job they are required to do, and that often means that patients don’t get the care they deserve (and the care doctors really want to provide).

An August 2014 article in the Wall Street Journal outlined the increasingly common unhappiness and discontent of primary care doctors, as told by Dr. Sandeep Jauhar in his new book:

“I have become the doctor I never thought I’d be: impatient, occasionally indifferent, at times dismissive or paternalistic. Many of my colleagues are similarly struggling with the loss of their professional ideals.”

So what has happened to primary care as a profession? Is there a way that doctors can get back to providing the highest level of patient care and achieve job satisfaction? Yes, It’s called Concierge Medicine.

Increased Satisfaction with Concierge Medicine

Over the past two decades, but particularly in the past couple of years, this discontent has caused more and more doctors to explore the possibility of transitioning to concierge medicine. Private medicine practices rely on retainer fees for income, which allows doctors to reduce patient volume by as much as 90 percent. Many also eliminate insurance as a middleman, instead covering basic services and preventive care under the retainer fees.

The reduced overhead costs and paperwork, combined with smaller patient loads, mean doctors can spend more time with each patient and provide more comprehensive health and wellness management. This rekindles the passion that physicians have for helping people, and provides better access to care for patients. Often the result is increased satisfaction on both sides of the doctor-patient relationship.

Other benefits like same-day or next-day appointments, 24/7 access to doctors via cell phone or email, longer appointment times, and comprehensive wellness programs help doctors and patients work together to manage complex diseases and improve overall health.

The Changing Healthcare Landscape

A few decades ago a primary care physician was like a member of the family—a trusted care provider who knew each patient personally and could provide comprehensive care and disease management. Over the course of the last 50 years or so many things have caused the role of the primary care doctor to shift.

  • Medical care has become more complex, leading to the rise of specialists
  • Insurance reimbursement models focus on paying for procedures rather than consultations or cognitive services (an important role of primary care doctors)
  • The new reimbursement model means income for specialists has skyrocketed to two or three times what a primary care doctor can make, leading more doctors to seek out specialty care instead of becoming general practitioners
  • Fewer medical students choose primary care as their specialty as education costs continue to rise but income for general practitioners does not, leading to a shortage of primary care doctors and the need for each doctor to take on more patients
  • Complex insurance billing and paperwork requirements mean increased overhead costs, while reimbursement rates from insurance providers (especially Medicaid, one of the largest insurers) continue to drop.

Unhappy Doctors, Unhappy Patients

With all these changes, many primary care doctors feel like their professional life and medical practice is akin to running on a treadmill: you have to expend a tremendous amount of energy to keep from falling, but you never really move forward. The WSJ article reports the alarming results of a 2008 survey of doctors, where only 6 percent reported having “positive” morale, more than eight in 10 said their incomes were holding steady or decreasing, and most would not recommend that friends or family members join their profession.

The most common complaint from these physicians was a lack of time available to spend with patients because heavy patient loads, paperwork, and other practice management concerns require too much attention and take away from time spent with patients. Their patients are also dissatisfied because in most traditional doctor’s offices they get only 10 or 15 minutes of face time with a doctor, and often have to wait weeks or even months to get in for an appointment.

While many medical professionals have become unhappy and disillusioned with their careers, concierge medicine is helping to bring better patient care and increased satisfaction back for general practitioners.



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Private Medicine: Not Just for the Elite

If you think that “concierge medicine” is something reserved for the rich and 21400481_blogfamous, think again. There have been a lot of changes in the healthcare landscape over the past few years, and one of them is an effort to bring boutique healthcare—also known as concierge medicine or private medicine—to the masses. In fact, many physicians find that the stress and red tape involved in running a traditional medical practice is just not worth it, and decide to switch to a concierge practice so they can focus more of their energy on what they love to do: patient care.

The History of Private Medicine

Private medical practices have been around for almost two decades, but in the early years the retainer fees required to obtain the services of a concierge doctor were often out of reach for middle class folks. These concierge physicians promised a higher level of attention and service from your doctor, including same-day or next-day appointments, round-the-clock access, and comprehensive wellness plans, but it came at a price.

Increasing Demand, Increasing Supply

As people began to see the benefits that concierge physicians could offer, including helping to manage complex chronic conditions, reducing the need for acute care in hospitals and other facilities, and offering more consultation and one-on-one time for better comprehensive health management, more people became interested in being part of a concierge practice. The increased demand from not-so-affluent consumers led to changes in the fee schedules and costs, opening it up to the masses.

Today there are concierge medicine practices that range from under $100 a month to several thousand dollars a month. In fact, studies show that about two-thirds of concierge practices charge less than $150 a month, making it affordable for many middle-class and upper-middle-class families. The good news is that even with more affordable retainer fees, many of them offer the same level of great care and improved access to the physician.

Ending the Frustrations in Health Care

As health care has shifted over the past decade, both patients and care providers have become dissatisfied with the model for the family doctor. In order to keep up with heavy paperwork volume, higher overhead costs, and lower reimbursements from insurance, doctors have to see more patients. The average patient load that a primary care physician carries today is between 2,000 and 4,000 patients; they have to see 25 or more patients every day, and appointments are often limited to 15 minutes or less. This leaves little time for physicians to develop trust and rapport with their patients, and leaves patients feeling frustrated with long wait times, difficulty getting appointments, and limited interaction with the doctor.

Benefits of Concierge Medicine

Private doctors reduce the volume of patients they see, and charge a monthly, quarterly, or annual retainer fee in exchange for a range of benefits, including:

  • Guaranteed same-day or next-day appointments
  • Longer appointments, often lasting 30 minutes or more
  • Access to the physician at all hours of the day or night (even on weekends) by phone, email, and on social media
  • The potential for house calls when necessary
  • Executive-level annual physicals and wellness programs
  • Complete metabolic panels every year
  • Reduced fees for lab tests and medications
  • Pre-travel medical planning
  • Comprehensive disease management, particularly for those suffering from chronic illnesses
  • Coordination, oversight and assistance even when you need to see a specialist or receive treatment in a hospital

Most private physicians also continue to accept insurance, although it is often only used for catastrophic illnesses, since preventive care and screenings are covered under annual retainer fees. By reducing or eliminating insurance involvement for basic care, doctors can reduce overhead, eliminate the need to get “approval” from insurance to cover recommended treatments, and offer better services at better prices.

With the number of concierge doctors jumping by 50 percent, from four percent of physicians to six percent between 2012 and 2013, it is clearly a trend that will continue to grow. While more and more people are becoming disillusioned with the current primary care model, private physicians are continuing to expand their services and make them affordable and accessible to everyone.

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Take Control of Your Private Medicine Practice With Networking & Events

10361485_blogIf you are a private physician you already know the importance of staying on top of your professional development. By attending continuing education and conferences, like the AAPP’s Fall Summit, you learn about the latest advances in medical care and practice management so you can provide the best patient care. What you may not know is that the same events can be a prime place for networking, which can benefit your practice and increase your success as a concierge doctor. Here are some ways you can improve your practice through networking and conference events.

Become a Member of Professional Organizations

There are many different organizations to choose from when it comes to medicine, but private doctors fill a special niche and have specific practice management needs. For that reason it’s a great idea to become a member of a professional organization that specializes in concierge medicine. Some of the most common benefits of membership include:

  • Early-bird or priority registration and discounted fees for conferences and events
  • Newsletters and other periodicals published by the organization
  • Directories and networking events to meet other private physicians
  • Discounts on services and equipment
  • Discount prescription cards for patients

Register and Attend the Events

While joining an organization is great, to really take advantage of networking opportunities you need to attend the events. Sometimes this can be difficult—you have to take time away from your practice and your patients to attend the event. The key is to recognize the educational and professional benefits that these conferences provide, and make it a priority to be there. When you know in advance, you can prepare your staff and patients for your absence.

Before you arrive at the event, review the conference schedule so you know which breakout sessions or classes to attend. You can also try to get a list of other attendees to see if there is someone in particular you want to meet; in many cases you can contact them in advance to make sure you get a chance to meet.

Be Social

When you arrive at the event, get to know the other attendees. Arrive early at events, stay late, and attend the designated networking activities like cocktail hours, coffee breaks, and dinners. If you are attending a conference with hundreds (or even thousands) of other concierge doctors they can probably offer you advice on how to run your own practice. They may be implementing membership and patient care models that would work particularly well in your area, or they may have some advice on what not to do from their own personal experience making mistakes along the way. If you take the time to get to know them and build relationships you can continue to benefit from the camaraderie and shared experience of being a pioneer in the field of private medicine.

Follow Up After the Event

One of the biggest networking mistakes often comes once the event is over—you spent several days getting to know your colleagues, sharing ideas, and benefiting from educational opportunities, but you never get in touch with them again after you leave. While it can be difficult to keep up with patient care, running a medical practice, and networking, follow-up and post-event contact are often the most beneficial part of networking.

Make it a habit to collect business cards and send a short email to all your new contacts after you get back. Keep a list of your networking contacts, organized by specialty or area of interest, so you can share professional resources and interesting news when you come across it in the future. These small connections can turn into great collaborations over time.

Get Involved with Organizations Outside of Events

Finally, many private physicians fail to realize that there are networking opportunities outside of conferences as well. Professional organizations often have committees and leadership opportunities beyond just conference attendance that will keep you connected with your peers. Serving on committees, educating lawmakers and lobbying on behalf of your practice and your profession, writing guest articles for blogs or organizational newsletters, and other similar activities can keep you involved in all the things that impact your practice.

As a private physician you have an important role to play in helping patients live a healthy and happy life. It’s important that you also understand the benefits of networking with other concierge doctors to make the most of your practice and offer the best possible care to patients.

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