Cardiology practice tests out concierge package deals

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Right now, concierge medicine is largely offered by primary care doctors.  It seems,  however, that specialists are catching on as well.

According to cardiovascular marketing blog The Main Artery, cardiologists are rolling out concierge packages too. One example comes from the Pacific Heart Institute in Santa Monica, CA, where cardiologists have begun offering services ranging from $500 to $7,500 for “extended” access and same-day appointments, the blog reports.

Pacific Heart kicked off its concierge program in frustration after watching Medicare payments fall over a long, painful 10-year period, President Richard Wright, MD told the blog.  With both Medicare and Medicaid moving money from cardiology to other specialty areas — as well as eliminating cardiology consult codes — gross revenues have fallen 26 percent from 2009 to this year alone, Wright says.

The concierge program offers three levels of participation.

“Select” patients pay $500 per year for priority appointments, as well as a bundle of standard services such as wafarin adjustments, defibrillator and pacemaker follow-ups.

“Premier” patients pay $1,800, for they get the select package plus e-mail communication with their doctor, same-day visits, priority lab testing and other benefits, such as a dedicated phone line to reach a nurse.

“Concierge” patients pay $7,500, for which they get everything in the premier package plus 24-hour direct pager access to a cardiologist, e-mail and text access, the personal cellphone and other forms of extended access.

The article doesn’t mention social media, but it begs the question of whether access via Facebook or Twitter will have a pricetag on its soon as well.  And with so much unbundled and paid for separately, will patients someday have to pay to speak to a receptionist rather than an interactive voice system if they want to ask a question?  One has to wonder.

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Shira Miller, M.D. November 15, 2010 at 6:48 pm

Great to hear! I am a Los Angeles internist with a concierge practice that focuses on wellness and anti-aging medicine. My patients keep their own primary care doctor and insurance, while I help them improve their health using lifestyle, nutrition, exercise, supplements and bio-identical hormones.


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