What Is a Concierge Pediatrician?
You’ve probably been hearing more and more about concierge medicine, but do you know exactly what it is? ConciergeMedicineToday.com defines concierge medicine as “a form of membership in which doctors provide medical care to patients, generally providing 24/7 access, a cell phone number to connect directly with their physician, same-day appointments, visits that take as long as it takes to address their needs and varying other amenities.”
Concierge doctors, including concierge pediatricians, deliver their care in a variety of ways. Some have a physical office for all of their patient appointments, while others offer only in-home and telemedicine visits - and some offer a hybrid of both.
In-home concierge services in particular are gaining in popularity. With COVID-19 still raging across our country, more people are recognizing the benefits of not having to leave their homes and expose themselves to others to see a doctor. This belief may be heightened if you have children.
Before you can decide if this modern medical approach is right for your family, It’s important to understand the benefits of a concierge pediatrician and to get your questions answered.
The Benefits of a Concierge Pediatrician
The benefits of a concierge pediatrician will depend on your needs and what you find valuable in a doctor. With the average American losing $43 waiting for a scheduled appointment and getting to spend 15 minutes or less with their doctor, it’s easy to see why so many people are considering concierge physicians.
When you are comparing concierge doctors with traditional doctors, the following are among the many benefits people discover with concierge pediatricians.
Perhaps the greatest benefit of a concierge pediatrician is the fact that you have much greater access to your child’s doctor. The premise of a concierge service is that member patients can reach their physician 24/7, frequently without having to go through a website portal, phone triage, or nurse. Most concierge doctors provide their member patients with their cell phone numbers, giving you direct access to them whenever you need them. Even if they are working with another patient, you should expect they will quickly return your call or text.
Imagine your child is ill with a high fever and a rash. You aren’t sure if you should take them to the hospital or schedule an in-home visit for the next day. Instead of worrying, you can call or text your child’s concierge pediatrician and get their opinion, even sending photos of the rash and a video of your child’s behavior. Within minutes, your doctor is able to advise you and give you peace of mind.
More time with your pediatrician
One of the biggest complaints patients have about their doctors is that they feel rushed during their appointment. The health insurance system forces doctors to see as many patients as possible during the day to make ends meet. It’s simple math and it makes sense, but it has the side effect of shorter appointment times.
A concierge doctor, on the other hand, isn’t as bound to time. They charge a monthly or annual membership fee that covers the gap in revenue so they can afford to spend more time with patients. For concierge pediatricians who offer in-home appointments, their overhead is much lower than doctors with offices, allowing them to spend even more time with patients and in the comfort of the patient’s home.
You get all of your questions answered while also building a stronger, more personal relationship with your doctor. Since your pediatrician is often with you for nearly two decades, it is important to forge a close relationship with a doctor you trust and who knows your child well.
There’s nothing worse than having a sick child and having to load them into the car, drive across town, and wait in a crowded lobby for your name to be called - except having to wait days to get an appointment.
Concierge pediatricians offer same-day appointments, and some offer same-day in-home appointments. Your child can rest comfortably at home and wait for the doctor to come see them in their own bed. The doctor brings what they need with them to diagnose and often treat symptoms. All you have to do is schedule the appointment at your convenience.
These days, even more concierge doctors are offering telemedicine appointments. These virtual appointments are ideal for medical conditions that may not require an in-person visit. Your child’s doctor may ask you and/or your child about their symptoms, ask to see certain symptoms, such as a rash or labored breathing, or ask you to take their temperature, for instance.
Not sure if your child needs to see a doctor? With text message access to your concierge pediatrician, you can ask before you schedule the in-home or telemedicine visit.
More personal care
Even though your child may have the same pediatrician their entire childhood, their doctor may not have the opportunity to really get to know them in a traditional office setting where appointments are short and you may not see the same doctor at each visit. Concierge pediatricians, on the other hand, are typically the only doctor your child will see. Because they are less bound by time, the pediatrician is able to spend as much time as needed to properly diagnose and treat, while having plenty of time to consult with you.
This extra time gives all of you the opportunity to really get to know each other on a personal level. You have time to go over medical conditions, behavioral issues, growth concerns and more - subjects that are often forgotten or there simply isn’t enough time in traditional office appointments. Particularly in the in-home visits, your doctor is able to see your child interact with other family members, watch their behavior in their natural setting, and engage with them in ways they never could in an office.
Transitioning to a concierge pediatrician may seem unconventional or overwhelming, but it’s only because it’s a relatively new, older concept. Here’s what we mean: in-home doctor visits have been around since the beginning of time. In fact, it’s how many doctors operated for centuries. According to The Journals of Gerontology, house calls accounted for 40% of all physician-patient encounters 70 years ago, but by 1980, that number plummeted to only 0.6%. Things are shifting again as people value more personal time with and greater access to their doctors.
While many people have embraced concierge services, this may be your first attempt at partnering with a concierge pediatrician. We want to answer some of the most common questions new patients have when considering a concierge doctor.
What does a concierge pediatrician cost?
Concierge pediatricians typically charge a monthly or annual membership fee on top of any lab, vaccination, or testing fees. These fees range from doctor to doctor, but ConciergeMedicineToday.com says most fees average between $125-$220 per month. Depending on whether they take health insurance, you may also need to pay your deductible, but those who accept insurance often charge a lower membership fee than the national average.
While this may sound steep considering what you’re used to paying in a traditional pediatrician’s office, this fee gives you unlimited access to your doctor, same-day appointments, and ample time with your pediatrician. It may also cover in-home and telemedicine visits.
Do they take traditional health insurance?
Some concierge pediatricians accept health insurance, but you should definitely ask when you are evaluating different providers. Those who do accept insurance often offer a lower monthly or yearly membership fee.
How do I schedule an appointment?
Each concierge pediatrician has their own way for patients to schedule appointments and those may differ depending on the type of appointment, such as in-office, in-home, or telemedicine. Ask doctors you are considering if you make appointments online, via an app, by text message, or another method. The benefit of a concierge pediatrician is that you can typically schedule an appointment for the same day or next day if the situation calls for it.
Are all visits in-home?
Not all concierge pediatricians offer in-home or telemedicine appointments, but the best pediatricians in Austin do. The beauty of a concierge service is to accommodate you. Being able to see a doctor virtually or in your home offers significant benefits, including convenience, comfort, and more time with the doctor.
What types of traditional pediatric services do they offer?
Concierge doctors may offer different services. You should ask what they provide when you are comparing doctors. Some of the more common services are:
- Well-child visits
- Sick visits
- Telemedicine visits
- CDC-recommended vaccinations
- Growth tracking
- Development guidance
- Breastfeeding guidance
- Sleep training / guidance
- Infant safety recommendations
How long does a typical in-home appointment last?
Concierge pediatricians are able to spend plenty of time with you and your child in an in-home or telemedicine visit. Depending on the reason for the visit, your pediatrician may stay as little as 15 minutes or as long as it takes to address your child’s needs.
Is the concierge pediatrician limited to certain geographic areas?
You should talk with any concierge pediatrician you are considering for in-home appointments to see if you live in an area they serve. If they do not offer in-home services, find out where their offices are to see if it’s convenient for you.