The nursing demand in many parts of United States makes the profession a good career choice, but it also means that a nursing job is often hectic and long shifts are common. Concierge medicine, where patients pay a membership fee to a health care providers, offers an alternative to busy practice settings.
The term may sound like a phenomenon reserved for the rich — and the trend did in fact start as a VIP service for the wealthy — but the field has evolved into a variety of practice settings, some of which cater to low-income patients.
How It Works
Patients pay a yearly or monthly fee to enroll in a concierge plan. This fee often includes unlimited doctor visits and may also include lab fees, other tests and procedures and virtual consultations. The practice usually accepts fewer patients, so they have shorter waiting times, while the actual appointments are longer. Some practices still accept traditional patients but give priority and perks to those who sign up for the concierge plans.
Concierge medicine originally provided an alternative to traditional health insurance. Patients could enroll in a concierge plan instead of carrying insurance (although a concierge plan doesn't cover costs outside of the clinic, such as emergency visits to the hospital, which made this a financially risky choice). That is no longer legal, since the Affordable Care Act requires almost everyone to carry insurance, but some patients can still cut costs by enrolling. This is possible due to insurance plans often having high co-pays and deductibles or limited out-of-network coverage. For doctors, the concierge trend means that they can avoid the paperwork and time involved in billing insurance companies, although some concierge clinics combine private insurance billing with membership fees.
Nurses in Concierge Medicine
For nurses, concierge medicine can offer a slower pace, closer relationships to patients and the ability to provide higher-quality care than may be possible at conventional clinics. Many opportunities for nurses will be in physician offices. In some US states, however, nurse practitioners are allowed to practice independently of doctors and can open their own concierge clinics.
However, this emerging trend is not for everyone. The exclusivity of the system is controversial and some are concerned that these clinics will focus on accepting "ideal" patients, leaving the chronically ill or poor behind.
Despite challenges, concierge medicine is becoming more common, and it can benefit both you and your patients. However, if you want to focus on serving underprivileged people, your best option is to work at a concierge clinic that does not focus on maximizing profits.