There is a movement in medicine by physicians who are tired of dealing with traditional practice styles that they believe impinge on how they practice medicine and how they are reimbursed for their services. They feel like they are on an assembly line and the joy of practicing medicine has been sucked out of them These physicians have changed to a style called “Concierge Medicine.”

            According to an online article “In the typical concierge experience, a primary-care doctor accepts insurance for routine services but also charges a non-reimbursable fee that pays for amenities like 24/7 access to the doctor, same-day appointments, longer appointment times and a greater degree of personalized attention (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/why-concierge-medicine-will-get-bigger-2013-01-17)

            In preparing for a workshop I am doing at the Florida Psychological Association meeting next week titled, “Growing and Sustaining a Private Practice: Opportunities are Where You Find Them and Where You Make Them” I was doing some exploring websites of practicing psychologists in Florida. I came across the webpage of Dr. Marilyn Varcoe. On this page (http://www.marilynvarcoe.com/concierge-counseling.php) she describes her concierge counseling services as a “new level of care.’ It includes:

  • Same day or next day appointments
  • Counseling offered at a private office, a location of your choice, or private phone

            session.

  • 24hrs/7 days a week care available
  • Access to cell phone and e-mail at all times
  • If needed, consultation and admission to Naples Community Hospital and the

            Willough of Naples

  • Coordination of services with Physicians of the Collier County Medical Society 

There is no mention on her webpage but I am assuming clients are paying a premium for such personalized services. The above article on concierge medicine for primary care physicians suggest that the average annual fee to be a patient of these medical practices is $1,800.

            Dr. Corrine Schultz is a Marriage and Family Therapist in Fort Lauderdale. On her website (http://www.connectedliving-fl.com/concierge-therapy/) she describes Concierge Therapy as a service designed for clients who desire an enhanced level of care – including more frequent ‘un-scheduled’ interaction and priority services. This premium offer is available to only 2 clients per month and consists of the following benefits:

  • As a ‘concierge client’ if you experience an immediate need to be seen, we will find a time that day – even if it means extending normal office hours.
  • Weekend appointments are often very popular and only available on a limited basis. You will be given priority for weekend appointments.  Sunday appointments are only available for concierge clients.
  • I typically have daily appointments scheduled back to back throughout the afternoon and early evening.  However, I understand that sometimes the therapy conversation just can’t wait for hours.  As a concierge client I make the commitment to you to respond within three hours of your call, even if that means getting back to you between scheduled sessions.
  • As an added benefit for concierge clients, I offer a ‘grace period’ of 15 minutes free of charge during our appointments.  If we happen to run past our 50-min time frame, and need a little more time to conclude our conversation, this takes the stress off of watching the clock.
  • Finally, as an added level of support, I provide weekly summaries of our conversation so concierge clients have access to their sessions even after they are over.

Clearly this is a practice approach that is not for all clinicians. Indeed, if a clinician is psychoanalytically-oriented this might not even be a consideration. However, think about the amount of competition in your area. How many mental health professionals are in your zip code? Providing concierge care to your clients (or some of your clients) may help you to stand out from the huddled masses.

 

Steven Walfish, Ph.D. is a Licensed Psychologist in Atlanta and a Partner at The Practice Institute (www.thepracticeinstitute.com). He is co-author with Jeff Barnett of Financial Success in Mental Health Practice: Essential Tools and Strategies for Practitioners, published by APA Books. Direct questions or comments to Steve at stevewalfishphd@thepracticeinstitute.com.