WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – If you’ve ever had to wait a while to see your family physician only to be rushed through the appointment, you know how frustrating it can be.
That’s why more people and businesses are opting for customized care.
Gerald Richardson has been coming to Tanglewood Family Medical Center in Derby for years. “For me, it was a godsend,” said Richardson, US Air Force retiree.
But Richardson recently joined a concierge program at the clinic. His family gets round-the-clock access to their doctor, longer appointments, and a more personal relationship.
“My grandchildren are referring to Dr. Panakos as my doctor, and that’s vastly different than in previous years,” said Richardson.
On top of his insurance premiums, a yearly membership for “concierge choice” costs about $140 a month. That includes discounted medicine given on-site, a yearly health evaluation, and other services not covered by insurance. Surgery or specialized care is not provided.
“I want to tell you a little bit about myself before we start,” said Dr. Constantine Panakos to a crowded room,
Three doctors from the clinic first pitched the idea to patients in September and found about 60 willing to pay more to get more.
“Do you feel frustrated sometimes how long it takes to get in to see your doctor?” When we asked 92-yeard old Cleo Comstock that question, his response was an emphatic “Yes, I do.”
Michael McCallop, a Wichita resident, responded, “It’s about 50/50. Sometimes it’s rushed, sometimes I have time to take care of it.”
“Personally, I’m adding time to my day, So I’ll have special time available for those concierge patients,” said Dr. Panakos.
More employers in Kansas are also making the switch to control costs.
Spirit AeroSystems, for example, has a concierge clinic in Wichita with four primary care physicians from Ascension Medical group “solely dedicated to spirit employees and their families.”
Quik Trip, on the other hand, shares a clinic. One doctor with Care ATC treats workers from Quik Trip and seven other businesses in Wichita.
It might sound like a lot, but Dr. Drew Schultz says he actually has fewer patients per day than a traditional practice, now averaging anywhere from 10 to 11. “Before I was here, I was seeing up to 35 [patients] a day.”
Ron Wallis, Wichita personnel manager at Quik Trip, said, “absolutely there are a cost-savings to this plan. We are paying one doctor and one doctor’s office, as opposed to multiple doctor’s offices.”
Quik Trip’s personnel manager also says employees pay nothing for appointments or prescriptions at the clinic, and most of the drugs they need are right there. “Medications for your cholesterol, medications for infections including viral and bacterial,” Wallis said
Adding this clinic to Quik Trip’s insurance did not jack up premiums, Wallis says, but it is a high deductible plan.
As for workers who don’t want to change doctors, Wallis said, “really there is no downside. If they want to continue to see their doctor, the cost to see that doctor is no different than it was before care ATC was a part of our healthcare business.”
More choices and more preventative care are what many doctors see as the future of family medicine.