The landscape of medicine is constantly on the move. With all these fast shifts, there might be times you feel left behind in terms of the patient/doctor relationship. But what if there’s a way to reestablish that classic connection? This is what’s happening when it comes to concierge medicine.
Dr. Alexis Karageorge started her internal medicine practice, Louisville Concierge Medicine, PLLC, in 2011. The foundation for her practice is based on the concierge model which she describes like this: Patients come into the practice and pay a subscription fee. This fee varies from practice to practice and can be paid monthly or yearly. The fee can run anywhere from $1,600 to $4,200 a year. “This allows me to see a more manageable number of patients and they receive more personalized care,” Dr. Karageorge says.
Dr. Karageorge explains there are many benefits to this type of customized care. “My patients can call and speak directly to me and get their questions answered right away,” she says. You can also have same-day appointments instead of waiting weeks (or on occasion even months) to be seen for a concerning condition. This ability to contact your doctor immediately and be in charge of your own health is one reason Jacquelyn Poff was intrigued by this model. Jacquelyn says when she was sick on her previous health care plan, she called her doctor, got funneled to the call center, was asked a series of questions, and then told she couldn’t get an appointment for three weeks. “Now I have the ability to text the front desk nurse and she responds promptly,” Jacquelyn says.
Another bonus Dr. Karageorge finds with the concierge model is that patients can have “a captain of the ship.” She says it’s not unusual for people to work with several specialized doctors for maintaining optimal health and as an internist, she becomes your captain. “I’m the doctor looking at the big picture,” she says. Dr. Karageorge makes sure diagnoses aren’t being missed and that you (as her patient) are always being heard. She’s charting your best course, organizing your health plans, and making sure you’re always comfortable. “I’ll be there to answer questions and most importantly hold your hand through the process,” she assures.
A concierge practice is all about having a personal physician you can reach in real time and help you navigate the waters of this very complex medical system that we live in, says Dr. Karageorge. This is why Jacquelyn’s experience with her concierge doctor has exceeded her expectations. She explains that she was away from home recently and had an allergic reaction to a product. This concerned her so she sent a text message to her doctor describing the circumstances followed up by a few pictures. Within the hour she had prescriptions waiting for her at the local pharmacy. “It’s so nice to feel a sense of security when you’re away from home,” she says.
What To Ask
Dr. Karageorge suggests asking several questions of any concierge physicians you might be considering.
What are your office hours and locations? And along those lines ask if you can make same-day appointments and what are good times to call for medication refills.
Inquire about their annual fee and how it is to be paid. Is it in one big sum or smaller installments?
Another important question to add to your list is: Does the physician go with you to the hospital? Ask if they actively go with you to the hospital or is it outpatient only.
By Tonilyn Hornung