Concierge medicine, sometimes known as direct primary care or Functional Medicine, earned this title which connotes luxury for several reasons. Some of these reasons include the ‘frills’ which patients receive:
Comfortable exam rooms
Shorter stays in waiting rooms
Personal attention after hours, on weekends, and on holidays
Sometimes the term is applicable because of the luxuries that the doctors enjoy, such as:
Time to visit with and get to know their patients
The ability to collaborate with other involved doctors when appropriate
Control over their own growth opportunities
While the term ‘concierge’ seems to imply that this method of providing healthcare is only for the wealthy, in fact, most people would probably find that ‘concierge’ medicine, or Functional Medicine, is actually a more affordable option than the plan they are already participating in. In my opinion, Functional Medicine isn’t just a healthcare plan for the wealthy, but a valuable option that many of us could benefit from.
‘Concierge’ Medicine Improves the Care Patients Receive
One of the best ways that patients under the Functional Medicine plan benefit is through the preventative services that we could receive. Within the Function Medicine plan, we would have the time to discuss symptoms and concerns with our doctor before those symptoms lead to a worsened condition. Patients are able to involve their doctor in developing nutrition plans and exercise regimens. This type of healthcare system encourages patients to develop healthy habits and maintain good health instead of postponing treatment until costly medications or procedures become necessary.
Imagine what would happen if doctors were paid because they were keeping their patients healthy instead of benefitting when patients become ill. Maybe then preventative care would be more accessible and the amount of chronic illnesses could be decreased. Imagine preventing diabetes instead of learning to live with it. Could improvements also be made in the field of mental health?
Allows Doctors to Offer Many Treatment Options
While the Functional Medicine plan doesn’t necessarily allow doctors to do less work, they do have the opportunity to find more fulfillment in their work. Doctors are able to collaborate with their patients in order to maintain higher levels of health, promote personal responsibility and instruct their patients in the habits that lead to improved health. Plus doctors are able to recommend treatment options that their patients will find personally effective. When necessary, doctors can meet with their patients at home, discuss concerns through email, or offer preventative testing that wouldn’t be covered by an insurance company. The Functional Medicine plan basically unties the binds that are currently preventing doctors from providing their patients with necessary and helpful services.
Individuals Currently Struggling to Pay Insurance Premiums and Rising Healthcare Costs
Some detractors of ‘concierge’ medicine will claim that this healthcare model provides the wealthy with healthcare options while denying healthcare to those who can’t pay the yearly retainers. However, the majority of us who are living in the middle to low income arena are already paying for healthcare insurance that doesn’t guarantee us access to the minimum of healthcare. The monthly payments we are making for our insurance don’t guarantee that our medical care will be paid for, let alone that we will get to choose which doctor we will see. If we were to add up the amount that we are paying into insurance policies, we may find that we are paying more than those patients who are appreciating the luxury of ‘concierge’ medicine.
It is also worth mentioning that they are hundreds of thousands of Americans who aren’t currently insured or who are underinsured. Under the current system, these people can’t afford healthcare at all. Within the Functional Medicine plan, those people would at least have the option of purchasing medical care when they need it.
A Working Model
The success of Functional Medicine can be measured based on the rapidly rising numbers of patients who are opting-in to the program. As more of us begin to recognize the financial losses we are taking each time a huge chunk of our paycheck goes to pay for health insurance which isn’t covering the treatment that we need, I think that more and more of us will turn to Functional Medicine. It is also my opinion that the term ‘concierge’ will rapidly be replaced by the more accurate term ‘Functional’. Patients and doctors working together to promote healthier habits and lifestyles; Doctors motivated to keep their patients healthy; Patients taking responsibility for improving their health – Those things sound ‘functional’ to me.