Choosing a Business Model: Considering Concierge Medicine

Ryan Syrek, MA; Wayne Lipton


April 19, 2016

Editor's Note:
From young physicians considering their first practice model to experienced doctors contemplating a change, the advantages and disadvantages can be overwhelming. For this first installment in a series examining various business models for physicians, we asked Wayne Lipton, a managing partner at Concierge Choice Physicians in New York, to give us his perspective on the ins and outs of concierge medicine.

Medscape: Could you describe the basics of concierge medicine?

Wayne Lipton: Concierge medicine is a membership model of physician care that enables physicians to dramatically increase their time, enhance their connectivity, and expand the nature of their relationship with patients. Patients pay an annual membership fee for services that are generally not covered by third parties (insurances or government plans). In addition, physicians offer various enhancements to their services, like same-day/next-day appointments, expanded appointment windows, annual examinations that go beyond covered services, and other amenities that improve the relationship between the provider and the patient. The model is not generally in lieu of insurance plans but in addition to them. Physicians can do this model in part via a hybrid model or in whole, known as the full model. Although initially this style of medicine was limited to adult primary care physicians, it is now successfully expanding into various specialties as well.

Wayne Lipton

The number of hours a week a physician who adopts this model spends practicing medicine varies. If a physician adopts the full-model approach, converting the entire practice to concierge, they will generally see 200-700 patients; therefore, the workload should lighten—there is no pressure to see as many patients as possible. If a physician decides to adopt a hybrid model, they will continue their traditional practice, seeing all patients, but will block several hours a week to care for concierge patients. The number of hours earmarked for concierge patients depends on membership, which typically ranges from 50-100 patients. Generally, the time allotted for concierge patients allows the physician to work at a more relaxed pace, spending more time with each patient.

The salary for a concierge physician tends to increase anywhere from 10% to 100%, depending on whether they are a full or hybrid concierge physician and how many members they have in their program. As a general rule, a physician can assume that they can triple or quadruple the amount of revenue they earn per patient when they convert to concierge. Of course, they are spending more time with their member patients, too, but it still averages to significantly higher revenue per hour.