Remember the days when you could see your primary care doctor if you got sick? Well, in today’s busy healthcare environment, this rarely occurs. Have you experienced calling in to your primary care doctor’s office with an acute illness, only to be offered an appointment in three or four days…or longer? Ultimately, you probably ended up going to an urgent care center and seeing a provider you didn’t know and who didn’t know you. You might have even had to see your own doctor days later because the treatment you received at the urgent care center didn’t work.
This kind of scenario does not happen in concierge medicine. The beauty of this practice model is that when you’re sick, you see your doctor, who understands all of your healthcare needs as well as how this acute episode will affect you specifically. In a concierge medicine practice, care is patient-centered, and your doctor is available to you outside of regular business hours for urgent issues.
No Waiting Around
When you’re sick, have an injury, or are experiencing new symptoms, you don’t want to wait days to address your concerns. In all frankness, sometimes illnesses like the common cold just need to run their course. A little rest and TLC, and you’ll be good as new.
However, what if it’s not a cold? What if it’s pneumonia or asthma causing yoursymptoms? Your concierge primary care doctor can determine the nature of your illness and the urgency of the treatment you need. In urgent situations, having a doctor available to you 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, can prevent undue suffering, and could even save your life.
Continuity of Care
In our nation’s complex healthcare system, many safeguards are being instituted to enhance communication and to ensure that nothing falls through the cracks. Unfortunately, there are still many glitches in the system. The best way to make sure that you are getting the best possible care—care that is appropriate for your unique set of circumstances—is to be treated by the doctor who knows you. There’s simply no substitute.
Having 24-hour access to your doctor gives you this benefit. Your doctor will not only know your medical history and the medications you are taking, but he/she will also be aware of the little nuances of your health that won’t be readily available to an unknown doctor. For instance, your doctor will know that he/she just recently increased your blood pressure medicine, so if your blood pressure is high the first thing your doctor may ask is if you are taking the correct dose. Your doctor will probably also know if you just returned from that big vacation you were planning; maybe the foods you were eating caused your blood pressure to go up. When you have a primary care doctor that is available to address your urgent concerns, medication errors can go down, redundant or ineffective treatments can be avoided, and your health can improve.
However, continuity of care does not only affect your physician’s decisions; it also affects your actions. When you have a concierge primary care doctor, you develop a strong and trusting relationship. You grow to value your doctor’s recommendations and are more likely to follow his/her advice. In other words, you are more inclined to adhere to your medication and treatment regimens and to institute recommended lifestyle changes. This inevitably will have a positive effect on your health.
No Unnecessary Testing and Fewer Emergency Visits
Another benefit to getting the urgent or emergent care that you need with a doctor that is available to you 24 hours per day is that if it’s not an emergency you are less likely to be subjected to unnecessary care. If you have any concerns, you can reach out to your concierge doctor, who is often willing to discuss your symptoms over the phone because he/she knows you. If there is a need, you may be seen in the office or in the emergency room. However, if it is not warranted, you won’t be making that trip to the office or paying for an emergency room visit.
This potential savings in time and money pertains to testing, as well. What you tell your concierge doctor about how you are feeling and your physical exam can often provide enough information for a diagnosis to be made. This is especially true if your doctor knows you well. The end result is that you avoid unnecessary blood work, X-rays, and other procedures.
Ultimately, the 24-hour availability of a concierge primary care doctor will result in better health, more meaningful use of resources, and much more satisfaction in the relationship you have with your doctor.
If you have any questions about concierge medicine, including how it works and how it may be beneficial to you, we would be happy to talk with you. For more information, please call Rockville Concierge Doctors at (301) 545-1811 to request a meet-and-greet, or request a meet-and-greet online.