Local patients signing up for concierge medicine

Published: Monday, July 28, 2014 @ 5:45 PM
Updated: Monday, July 28, 2014 @ 5:45 PM

Imagine a waiting room with no wait and a doctor who answers your texts and makes house calls.

It seems like a fantasy, but Connie Weiser of Butler Twp. is getting immediate attention from her doctor. It is called Concierge Medicine, and her doctor, Barry Taylor, is among a growing number across the country, including the Miami Valley, trying this new approach to healthcare.

"It's just a different concept. It's so nice not being a number," said Weiser. "It's great because he has all the time in the world for you now."

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While many doctors average about 2,500 patients, Connie is one of 400 patients who now pay a premium for this personal, all-access relationship with her doctor. Prices range from $500 to as much as $2,000 per year for a patient who is over age 50.

"It's peace of mind. It's like an insurance policy," said Weiser, who still needs insurance to cover special tests, hospital stays, trips to the emergency room and surgery.

Taylor is hoping the new approach will cut down on his patients’ hospital visits.

"I try not to have people go to the ER," he Taylor. "I can usually take care of them here in the office. Sometimes, I have to go see them."

Taylor said he wanted to return to the roots of old-fashioned medicine, so he started the concierge practice two years ago. It allows him to work at a more relaxed pace, and no patient is fighting for his time.

"The economic pressure on the physician is to get out of the room and move to the next patient, and that's it. So, I started this practice to get rid of that," Taylor said.

In fact, he refers to concierge medicine as doctor heaven. But is it heaven for the patient?

"I think concierge medicine serves a particular niche,” said Bryan Bucklew, president of the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association. “I think it's an important niche, but I don't think it's the universal solution to health care access in our community. Medical technology is increasing. The way providers are being paid is changing and so you are going to see different initiatives taking place, and concierge medicine is one of those."

Whether concierge medicine is a good or bad practice will depend on the individual patient's circumstances.

"The one thing people are going to have to do with the Affordable Health Care Act and the changes in health care is really do some research on what's the best plan, what's the best provider," he said.

Taylor is among nine doctors in the Dayton area who have concierge style practices, and many of them said they have a waiting list of patients who want to join.

Weiser is pleased with the service because it’s convenient and has full access to her doctor.

"You can send him things before you get to the doctor's office,” Weiser said. “You can send him your questions. Or if you need him in the middle of the night, he's available. He's available on weekends. It's just so comforting. You know you can rely on him to be there."