Concierge medicine is a term that has been coming up a lot lately, but that doesn’t really mean it’s new. It is actually quite old, and modeled after what physicians were like years ago, when they came to your home when you were sick, and knew everyone in your family. Now many doctors are stepping out of the system to chart their own course in patient care. One example is Dr. Leonard Kaplan of Osteopathic Wellness Medicine of WNY. Dr. Kaplan, a physiatrist, focuses on rehab and pain management in treating spinal and limb pain, chronic migraines and facial pain, those who were recently injured, and those who simply want to focus on wellness.
“I’m not interested in seeing lots of patients,” says Kaplan. “It’s about quality, not quantity. I don’t want to be constrained by having to spend only a few minutes with each patient in order to move on to the next one. I want to spend time getting to know my patients and their concerns. I want to take care of their minds and their bodies – I want to take care of the whole person, and help people who are in pain, and help others take better care of themselves so that they don’t develop pain.”
Today it is a luxury for doctors to know their patients. Treating them often involves checking off a list of boxes that correspond to fees and tasks. But for doctors who step away from the system, it means seeing patients when they need to be seen, often on the same day, talking to them on the phone, meeting them in the emergency room if necessary, and helping arrange for tests and appointments with specialists.
Kaplan feels that concierge physicians often give up being reimbursed by insurance companies, but gain so much more. Instead of seeing 2500 patients, they may only see 500. They communicate with their patients with via phone and email. They can also take advantage of new technologies, which is something he is very excited about. “Imagine being able to get information about the level of your patient’s stress communicated to you through a device for only $4 per patient per month. Imagine calling patients to let them know that their stress level needs to be addressed to avoid illness!
Typically concierge physicians charge patients a monthly or annual membership fee for unlimited office access. “You don’t have to be rich to have a concierge physician,” notes Kaplan. In fact, fees are typically lower than most insurance deductibles. And patients love being seen by the doctor personally every time. “Having a concierge practice allows me to be the kind of doctor I always wanted to be. It allows me to develop lasting, trusting relationships with patients. I get to help them by being able to spend more time with them without having to worry about conforming to a specific task and payment schedule, says Kaplan.
By Annette Pinder, Buffalo Healthy Living Magazine, February 2015