Annual membership in Eisenhower Primary Care 365 costs $465 for those 55 years and younger and $665 a year for those 56 and older ($420 and $620, respectively, per person when more than one immediate-family adult enrolls). The cost for children of member parents runs $50 a year.
“We have approximately 11,500 patients enrolled in Primary Care 365,” Renker says. For years, Coachella Valley physicians have offered concierge-style plans — providing short wait times and extended exam/consultation times, direct channels of communication, and otherwise personalized care for an annual fee. Eisenhower responded to concierge-medicine requests by launching Eisenhower Primary Care Concierge in 2017. The annual fee runs $3,000 per member.
“We’ve leased space to concierge doctors, but started our own concierge service with Eisenhower-employed doctors,” Renker says. “We had patients with multiple health issues who needed more time with their doctors,” he adds, noting that the average age of Eisenhower patients is 78. “We created the program to (a) offer greater access to doctors and (b) form patient-physician relationships.
“Our concierge doctors also are the attending physicians when their patients enter the hospital,” he adds. “Many people want to have the same doctor looking after them if they need inpatient care. They appreciate the comfort level of having a doctor there who knows them.”
About 1,500 people have enrolled in the concierge program. Close to 80 percent of members in Eisenhower’s dual programs are over the age of 65.
Concierge Medicine Today reports annual growth in subscription-based healthcare, primarily in internal and family medicine, from 3 to 6 percent. The independent trade source further indicates that, while there are more than a million practicing licensed physicians nationwide, anywhere from 6,000 to 20,000 operate a subscription or cash-only (no insurance) model. Lack of a federal registry or official database for this sector of healthcare explains the wide-ranging estimate, but the point is that concierge medicine remains a limited option overall.
Concierge Medicine Today highlights a 2018 Medscape survey revealing that about one in four physicians typically spend less than 12 minutes with their patients, even though longer visits are connected to positive outcomes and reduced rates of medication prescriptions. To be fair to those one in four, people need to understand that it is not because those doctors care less than the three-in-four contingent. Though longer than Einstein’s theory of relativity, the following equation brings prime factors to the surface:
Number of hours in a day x doctors available – time needed for paperwork to comply with rules and satisfy insurance companies ÷ number of patients needing to be seen = available time for consultation and advice
Perhaps you noticed there is no “plus sign” in the above formula. That results in frustrated patients and frustrated [as well as burnt-out] doctors. It further explains why Eisenhower not only has built its roster of staff physicians, but also invests in training new doctors in conjunction with opening primary-care facilities.
“An initiative was put together with the overarching need to start graduate medical education and clinics together,” says Eisenhower Health Foundation president Michael Landes, “because you don’t want your [physician] residents trying to practice internal medicine when there is no avenue to do it on the hospital campus. You want them to learn through the avenues of urgent and primary care in outlying areas.
“Philanthropy funded this effort for many years to get it off the ground,” he adds. “Now we try to operate it at a break-even point or a little better so that we get the benefit of serving our communities in the way they want us to serve them. Our clinic volumes exceed our inpatient volumes, and that’s what we anticipated.”