VIP Medical Services: Helping Seniors
Summary: Does it sometimes seem like our medical care options are shrinking and we are being treated more and more like a number than an individual by our medical providers?
Does it sometimes seem like our medical care options are shrinking and we are being treated more and more like a number than an individual by our medical providers?
As an elder law attorney, I see first hand, day in and day out, how my baby-boomer clients are squeezed to their limits, being pulled in every direction. Many of them are taking care of their own children, as well as ill parents, while trying to hold on to their jobs or businesses and keep their own health in check. To say they have the weight of the world on their shoulders would be - well - correct.
One thing that takes up a tremendous amount of time for people dealing with their senior loved ones is medical appointments. Typically, taking someone to the doctor for checkups or testing will use up a half day to a full day. They have to get the senior ready, either drive or arrange transportation to the appointment (such as Access-A-Ride), wait once they get to the doctor’s office, get seen by the doctor, get transportation home, then get the senior settled back into the home. Often they both need to eat at some point during this process, so lunch may also need to be factored in. If this process does not take a whole day, it certainly takes a good part of a day. In the life of a typical caregiver, this happens often and it involves substantial time away from work. I always keep a box of tissues on my desk, because when I meet with caregivers, there is almost always some crying going on. Taking care of our seniors is a daunting task.
A growing medical model called VIP medical services, or concierge medical services, may be just what the doctor ordered for caregivers and their senior loved ones. VIP medical services refers to a practice model that uses a membership approach. Patients pay an annual fee for participation. They typically receive services such as house calls, telephone and/or email access to the doctor, priority appointments with no wait and specialist appointments scheduled for them.
If the baby boomers or the seniors can afford to pay an annual fee over and above the regular co-pays, this type of convenience driven service may be a great time and energy saver. Similar to the trend in many businesses, these medical providers are adding value to their patients in the form of better “customer service.” Since we live in a time in history when we have more seniors and more caregivers than ever before, this type of service is likely to become very popular.
Ideally, practices providing VIP service are able to limit the size of their practices. They can see fewer patients, lower their administrative costs and, thus, provide more personal attention to each patient. Both the patients and the doctors benefit when the doctor is able to know the patient better and give more attention. These practices also tend to focus more on preventive care as well.
According to Concierge Today, studies have shown that patients enrolled in VIP programs tend to be more compliant with their medical treatment plans, including medication regimens. This can be attributed to the closer follow-up and more frequent communication with the doctor. Patients are more likely to tell the doctor about issues that arise with their medicines, and the doctor is able to provide solutions and encouragement to keep the patient on track.
VIP Medical Services empower physicians to finally
practice the way they have always dreamed of –
they can truly get to know their patients as people,
rather than as a collection of symptoms; they can
focus on prevention and wellness in a holistic
manner; and they finally have the time to do what is
right for their patients. Furthermore, it is a
professional model in which the healthcare
provider's incentives are completely aligned with
the patient's needs.
Overall, the research seems to show that patients get better care with a more personal approach. It is obvious that if a doctor is able to see fewer patients, that each patient would benefit from the extra care and attention. The other potentially huge benefit to the caregiving population is the simple matter of convenience. If joining a program like this can save a half day or a full day for each appointment, this can add several days a year tothe caregiver’s schedule. Instead of taking a day off work for each appointment, the doctor can come to the house at the caregiver’s convenience and then leave, and the
caregiver can go to work. It doesn’t just save time, it can also lighten the caregiver’s stress load. It looks like this medical model will be a win-win scenario.
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