Is Concierge Medicine the New Primary Care?
Early on in the 1930s, the way physicians made their living was primarily through house calls. In fact, 40 percent of medical visits were made by a doctor visiting a patient in the comfort of his home, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians.
Over time, this percentage steadily dropped due to a lack of funding, an increase in health establishments and following the trend of common practice – until now. Concierge medicine is where patients pay an annual fee to their doctor for enhanced care, and it is a practice that has seen growth in the sector of health care for the past few years.
Founded on the belief that health care should provide the highest standard of personal care that is equally convenient and accessible, one health startup has unveiled a doctors-on-demand mobile service that connects a physician face-to-face with patients no matter their location.
Developed by co-founders Sam Zebarjadi, Dr. Sahba Ferdowsi and Nafis Zebarjadi last year in South Florida, Medicast is an on-demand, location based service available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The program has extended its services to San Diego, Orange County and Los Angeles, and expects to reach other metropolitan areas this year.
Concierge care can prove especially convenient to a young child who is unable to get out of bed.
The Rise of Concierge Care
Convenient access to quality health care is something every health care professional strives to achieve. By simply pulling up an app, patients can request a physician to make a visit to their home, office or hotel.
Concierge medicine is still relatively new but it’s a trend that is catching on. According to the trade publication Concierge Medicine Today, the sector is growing 10 to 15 percent each year.
“There is a proliferation of on-demand services in every aspect of today’s society, and people are becoming busier and their time is more valuable,” said Dr. Sahba Ferdowsi, Chief Medical Officer at Medicast. “Additionally, they are looking for solutions to their current frustrations with health care.”
Ferdowsi believes Medicast is just one solution to providing a high quality, compassionate service that has been eroded from the original health care system.
“Personal house calls allow the patient to be treated in the comfort of their own home and receive a higher standard of care from start to finish,” said Ferdowsi. “The average length of an in-office doctor visit is six to eight minutes. Our doctors spend an average of 30 to 45 minutes with each patient, and the visit can happen right away, as opposed to waiting days for an appointment.”
With direct primary care now available 24 hours a day by simply using the Medicast mobile app, logging onto the website or making a phone call, consumers can opt out of countless hours in a waiting room and lines at the pharmacy by choosing a private house call with a certified, local physician, ultimately freeing their schedules for a healthier time better spent.
Advantages of Personalized Care for Both Patient and Doctor
According to Sam Zebarjadi, CEO of the service, the primary benefit of personal house call visits is that it allows patients to get treated sooner and therefore healthier faster.
“Doctors carry many medications with them which can be dispensed immediately, so the healing process can start right away,” Zebarjadi said. “The doctor can also see the patient in their own environment and assess how that may be contributing to their health.”
“One advantage is that the physician is able to assess the patient in their home, so they are able to gather information that they would not be able to get in a clinical setting (for example, an asthmatic who lives in a smoking environment),” added Ferdowsi. “The physician does not have to rush through the visit and has the time to have educational discussions with the patient where they might not otherwise.”
Ferdowsi also believes that concierge care may ultimately reduce health care costs, overall benefitting the industry.
“The majority of healthcare costs today are spent on overhead including facility costs, administrative needs, etc. and cutting down on those costs will drive decreased fees and ultimately improve patient outcomes,” said Ferdowsi.
Physicians making house calls are able to provide services equivalent to those received in a traditional office setting.
The Future of Health Care
“Telemedicine will play a part in the care process but nothing will replace the in-person relationship that is needed between the physician and patient for a variety of reasons, namely the ability to diagnose certain conditions that require a physical exam, with an added benefit being an opportunity to immediately dispense medication,” said Zebarjadi. “House calls are a way to satisfy this need in a manner that is compatible with the rapidly growing on-demand culture we are seeing in society today.”
Concierge medicine is attractive for a number of reasons, but most importantly, it allows health care providers to mobilize their practice “in the palm of their hand.”
“When tied in to the overwhelming demand for healthcare services, [Medicast] creates a novel way to use technology to empower their practice and make the patient experience better,” said Zebarjadi. “We’ve seen an overwhelming response from physicians all over the country who are interested in being a part of what Medicast has to offer because they find it a refreshing take on the practice of medicine. An additional benefit that is very enticing to physicians is the flexibility to practice on their own schedule.”
Thanks to the rise of mobile health applications and concierge medicine, doctors have more time to engage with patients, communicate with pharmacists, and ultimately, improve the continuity of care.