High Stakes

How to Give All Patients the Concierge Care Experience

concierge care concierge medicine

Not all health systems can switch to concierge care. But they can steal best practices from concierge care providers to help make patients happier.

Patients want convenience. And through concierge care, those who are willing to spend the dollars can get it. Those who aren’t have to wait in a beige lobby and flip through that October 2013 issue of Good Housekeeping.

Patients want access – quick and easy access to healthcare that’s accommodating to their schedules. Concierge medicine checks those boxes, allowing patients to:

  • Text their healthcare provider. Check.
  • Skip the ER waiting room. Check.
  • Have providers who not only make house calls, but come to them – at the airport or their kid’s soccer game – preventing the mile-long walk through dimly lit hallways before 5:00 p.m. when the doctor’s office bolts the doors. Check, check, check.

Patients who enroll in a concierge program know what they are buying when they fork over anywhere between $5,000 to $40,000 a year: access and convenience.  As one concierge doctor stated in a recent New York Times article on this topic, “if you need to go to Mass General, we can get you in…. Doctors like to help other doctors.”

Some hospitals are seeing this trend and are offering additional services for an extra fee. Think valet parking. Special blankets. That fancy post-partum recovery room. Many are hiring “real” chefs who prepare tasty meals instead of reheated cafeteria food and Jell-O. It’s a patient’s dream. But why do we continue to think of these services as concierge?

What’s up, doc?

We shouldn’t have to ask our patients to break the bank to get the same level of service they currently get from their dentist or veterinarian. And the churn-and-burn model that we are forcing our physicians into is diminishing engagement scores.

Here are some tips to get you thinking about your own concierge-like improvements:

  • Involve your physician team. Ask them how to enhance the patient experience and how they can help.
  • Conduct your own assessment of patient and family areas. Is there someone there to help your guests? Does it look like a basement or a family room?
  • Do a culture check. How is a patient-centered culture ingrained in all employees? Are leaders and employees trained to go above and beyond?
  • Embrace technology. There are loads of new technologies that can help physicians communicate safely with patients. Jump on board.

It is important to be realistic in your approach to this work. To do it well takes a serious commitment from leadership and most likely a significant time and financial investment. This can’t be a “flavor of the month.” You may have to consider new approaches to care – for example, reshuffling roles so that advanced practitioners remove some of the burden that physicians currently bear. Also, before a total transformation, consider piloting some programs with select facilities or departments.

Whatever you want to call it, these patients – our customers, consumers and our community – want access and convenience. Let’s get serious. Patient satisfaction lies in our ability to give them what they want. And it’s not Jell-O.


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