Thursday, July 24, 2008

Medical Market is Changing

The market is reacting to the changing economics of healthcare in the US.

In this story from the Arizona Republic, some primary care physicians are moving to a "concierge" model for their practice.

Dr. Neil J. Sapin wooed his patients last week with a wine-and-hors d'oeuvres reception at his Glendale office. Next month, the doctor plans an encore bash at Arrowhead Country Club.

Such receptions are an unusual way for a doctor to mingle with patients, but Sapin has an unusual request for his patients. He wants them to pay an annual retainer of $1,500, a fee that will buy these patients better access and more attention from the busy doctor.

Sapin is among a handful of Arizona doctors who are so frustrated with the pressures of being a primary-care physician that they are striking a new, more exclusive path known as concierge medicine. The practice typically involves charging an annual fee in exchange for better access, longer appointments, more emphasis on preventive care and other medical perks.

As they say, read the whole thing.

At the same time, over at Carpe Diem, Mark Perry notes that medical associations aren't too happy with the proliferation of low cost clinics.

Translation: The family doc cartel is worried about increased competition.

Again, read the whole thing.

What these stories tell me is that the industry is changing yet again as both suppliers and customers adjust to costs and benefits. I suspect that both types of changes will be beneficial. Low cost clinics will take care of the more mundane stuff and doctors will focus on the people and things that really need their attention and expertise.

As with most transitions in industries, it will be a bit messy as things get sorted out.

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