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5 Biggest Challenges with Concierge Medicine

September 5th, 2023 | 4 min. read

By Janet Kiss, Membership

roadblocks with concierge medicine

Happiness is worth pursuing and it’s also, in some cases, possible to predict. You’re looking at concierge medicine likely because traditional primary care hasn’t been a great experience for you. We think you’re right to look for an option that satisfies you.

Statistics suggest that, if you choose to join a concierge practice, you’ll enjoy that choice — at least enough to stick with it. At PartnerMD, more than 95% of our patients renew year after year.

But that doesn’t mean everyone will find the perfect concierge practice fit, at least not right away. Let’s protect you by working backward.

What are some of the biggest challenges that lead to dissatisfaction or disappointment with concierge medicine?

By identifying those, hopefully, you can learn from their lessons and find the right concierge doctor for you, faster. 

1. Concierge medicine is not for everyone. 

No solution is right for everyone. It’s a core value behind concierge care: Personalization is better than one-size-fits-all systems.

Well, if that’s true, then it means that even concierge care itself isn’t the answer for everyone. This might surprise you, but we agree with that sentiment.

We don’t think you should force the fit if this approach doesn’t match your needs. You just may not have any reason to find a new primary care doctor, and that's fine. 

If you’re having a great experience with your care at a traditional practice, then there’s no need to disrupt what’s working well for you.

There are traditional practice doctors who, despite having so many patients, provide attentive, dedicated care. We wouldn’t want to pull you away from a good situation.

Already happy? Staying put might be your best option.

Group of patients holding hands to their ears to block out the noise

2. Not using your concierge medicine membership. 

Do you know what’s truly pointless? Frequent flyer mile incentives if you rarely fly, rewards programs from that restaurant you visit twice per year, gym memberships if you won’t exercise, and concierge memberships if you won’t see a doctor.

Your membership gives you all sorts of access, but access doesn’t matter if you won’t reach out to your doctor. It comes with all sorts of perks, but they’re all worthless if you won’t use them.

If you don’t use your membership, you’re far more likely to be dissatisfied with concierge care. And using your membership goes beyond just scheduling appointments.

Remember why you’re interested in concierge medicine in the first place. There’s likely a voice in your head telling you to investigate better choices for your care.

That same voice is likely to say you should use your membership, see your doctor, and take part in what your concierge program offers.

Listen to that voice. Don’t do the work of researching and buying a membership only to let it sit unused.

3. Not trusting your doctor enough. 

You keep your regular appointments. You’ve enjoyed an advanced annual physical. Maybe you even stay engaged with your concierge’s practices wellness services (if they offer any).

But at the end of the day, your concierge doctor can only help so much if you don’t trust them enough to really fill them in. Tell them everything – even the parts you may not be proud of or that you’re scared to talk about.

Doctors are healers. They exist to help you. And since concierge doctors get to spend more time with patients, they’re typically pretty helpful in working through a number of issues – mental, physical, emotional, whatever it may be.

Concierge doctors are all about developing meaningful relationships with their patients. They can’t do that if you don’t let them in and trust them completely. And if you’re not trusting them enough to tell them everything, you’re not getting the most value possible out of your investment.

man in a suit checking his watch

4. Not enough concierge doctors in the practice or in the area. 

We know finding the right doctor for you can be hard. And it may take a couple of tries. You may love everything about concierge care – the access, the time, the ease of scheduling appointments, feeling like your doctor actually knows who you are – but just aren’t connecting with your doctor.

Some concierge practices are solo practitioners – it’s one doctor running the practice. If that’s the case, leaving the doctor means finding a new practice, transferring your records, and dealing with all the hassles that come with finding a new home for your healthcare.

And in some areas, there just aren’t many options for concierge docs. So, again, you may love concierge care, but not the doctor, and there may not be a bunch of options elsewhere for you to try.

Concierge medicine has grown exponentially since the first practice was started in 1996. That’s part of the reason it’s become more affordable. But it’s still fairly young as a model and can be limited in terms of size of practice and availability in certain areas.

Looking for concierge medicine practices in your area? Check out some of our market-by-market comparison blogs. 

5. You have unrealistic expectations

When you sign up for concierge care, you expect to be treated like a VIP. And you should — you pay for extra time with your physician, extra ways to access your doctor, and all sorts of other perks.

You’ve invested in membership and have every right to expect the best. Just keep in mind that every model of care, even concierge care, is operated by and for humans.

For instance, your practice might advertise no-wait appointments, and yet you might wait five minutes one day. Before you storm out of the office and cancel your membership, see if there are special circumstances or if it’s standard conduct for that practice.

Or, to use another example, your practice might promise unlimited access to your physician, and yet you have a phone call redirected to an on-call doctor. It’s good to remember that even concierge physicians get sick occasionally and that they have kids who have school plays, tee-ball games, and so on.

You’re paying for great care, so expect it. Just keep in mind that there’s a human component to the system.

Find the care that works for you. 

We don’t believe every concierge practice fits every person. You have to find your fit. If you join a practice and later learn it’s not for you, switch to another one.

At PartnerMD, we let you go month-to-month, so you can leave your membership with no added fees with only 30 days written notice.

While not every practice fits everyone, we think there’s a concierge fit out there for pretty much anyone. Use the awesome perks of your membership and never forget that doctors are people too.
If you stick to those rules, we think you can have an outstanding experience.

Ready to learn more about concierge care so that you can have a great experience? Download our free Understanding Concierge Medicine guide.

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Janet Kiss, Membership