As individualized medical programs become increasingly prevalent, there arises a need to evaluate if and how these types of concierge medical groups will impact the management of hospitals and other healthcare institutions.
In this article we’ll evaluate some of the pressing issues hospital management should be aware of, and how to prepare.
A Decline In Emergency Room Visits
The first and most obvious point to consider is the impact of personal physicians on emergency room visits.
While there is an obvious correlation between individuals and families that subscribe to concierge practices and the decrease in ER visits among the same demographics, this decline has proved to be relatively minor up to this point. For example, in the San Francisco Bay Area even though SF personalized medicine practices are widespread, it has had a very small impact on the total ER admission rates for the region.
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That’s because the decline is largely based around middle to upper middle class participants, a demographic which is far less likely to visit an ER for a non-emergent medical issue, when compared to families from lower socioeconomic situations.
Thus, while there is an obvious decline for those demographics, the overall impact has been relatively minor. This impact is unlikely to change dramatically, unless there is sustained, radical growth in the concierge medicine business among lower SES groups.
Read this marketwatch article for more on the growth of the concierge medical industry.
Changes in Surgeon Referral Networks
The other impact to consider is how the personalization of the physician-patient relationship will impact surgeon referral networks.
Typically, surgeon referrals come from related specialist practices, but with the increased demand for concierge services, many patients are eager to “skip the line” for specialist referrals, causing a shift in the referral patterns.
This shift is not necessarily either positive or negative, but reflects a changing trend of patients seeking out trusted opinions before considering a new physician, rather than looking for a healthcare provider based exclusively on their own research and/or insurance preferences.