When you hear the word concierge, most people think of a hotel person finding dinner reservations or hard to get theater tickets. But what about your doctor?
Medical professionals are offering a different, higher class of service that patients are paying a premium to receive.
“In 34 years of medicine, I’ve done an awful lot of things,” said Dr. Dominick Toulouse of Southlake Clinic.
Toulouse says his concierge model isn’t unusual.
“I feel like I had always practiced concierge medicine,” said Toulouse
His goal is to treat patients by giving them enough time and care at appointments. That’s something he says he couldn’t successfully do before switching to a concierge model.
“People would call in and we’d say well, I’d like to get you in, in a traditional medical practice, but it’d be three weeks. You can only put in so many hours,” said Toulouse.
Four years ago, he changed things up. His patients now pay a fee that varies, depending on age.
“It allows me to say you can come in and see me whenever you want, same day, next day,” said Toulouse.
His patients said that made the fee worth paying.
“I’ve called and they’ve forwarded the call to him and he’s been in his car, and has turned around and gone home so he could write a prescription so we could get it filled,” said Patient Merna Wheeler.
Wheeler has seen Dr. Toulouse for more than 30 years. She was a patient of his before, and after, he switched to the concierge model.
“I think he allows at least an hour now,” said Wheeler
An hour of time with the doctor, versus the typical 15-minute appointment.
“He never made you feel like he was in a rush to the next patient,” said Wheeler.
But that care comes at a cost. A recent study shows annual fees ranges from $1,500 to $20,000. That cost is additional to your insurance payments.
Aaron Katz, a professor with the University of Washington’s School of Public Health, says patients can see where their money is going with this kind of model.
“Usually those clinics limit the number of patients that they serve entirely so that they can, in fact, provide that sort of more rapid access,” said Katz.
In the world of concierge medicine time is money, but that time may lead to better health.
“If someone needs me to be here at 8 o’clock, I’ll be here at 8 o’clock: You know, if I have to come in on a weekend to see someone, I’ll do that, too, said Toulouse.