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The Spectrum of Concierge Care: Scientific, Ethical, and Policy Issues

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  1. The Spectrum of Concierge Care:Scientific, Ethical, and Policy Issues Martin Donohoe

  2. Am I Stoned? A 1999 Utah anti-drug pamphlet warns: “Danger signs that your child may be smoking marijuana include excessive preoccupation with social causes, race relations, and environmental issues”

  3. “All men are created equal” • Declaration of Independence • “Some people are more equal than others” • George Orwell

  4. Outline • Financial problems facing academic medical centers • Single specialty hospitals • Medical tourism • Recruitment of wealthy, non-U.S. citizens

  5. Outline • Other competitive strategies • Overseas clinics/hospitals • Boutique/concierge/luxury care clinics • Erosion of science • Erosion of professional ethics • Solutions

  6. Academic Medical Centers Hurting Financially • US health care crisis • Costs associated with medical training • Disproportionate share of complex and/or uninsured patients

  7. Academic Medical Centers Hurting Financially • Erosion of infrastructure • Shrinking funding base • Increased competition with more efficient private and community hospitals

  8. Single Specialty Hospitals • Over 100 nationwide • Often physician-owned • PPACA limits physician-owned hospitals from starting or expanding • Provision being challenged in courts • Boom from 2000-2010, now on decline

  9. Single Specialty Hospitals • Problems: • Cherry pick healthier patients with good coverage • No ER • No need to cross-subsidize indigent care, ER, burn wards, and mental health care • Incentives for overtreatment • >1/3 may violate Medicare’s conditions for participation

  10. Medical Tourism • US citizens traveling abroad for care • 750,000 in 2007 • 1 million in 2010 • vs. 400,000 non-Americans visiting the U.S. annually for care) • $54 billion industry

  11. Medical Tourism • Insurance plans increasingly cover (large cost savings) • Mostly for cardiac, orthopedic, and cosmetic procedures • Sometimes for pharmaceuticals or procedures unavailable or illegal US (e.g., PAS) • Adverse effects on health care availability in foreign countries • May contribute to spread of infectious diseases • E.g., NDM-1 per some scientists, others

  12. Reproductive Tourism 20,000 to 25,000 IVF procedures on US citizens done abroad Rent-a-womb abuses Converse situation is “maternity tourism” – undocumented immigrants entering U.S. to give birth (to babies guaranteed citizenship by the 14th Amendment)

  13. Transplant Tourism • Transplant Tourism: • Black market for organs (10-25% of all kidneys transplanted worldwide each year) • Spurred on by marked organ scarcity in US • Stem cell tourism increasing • Many procedures highly experimental, of dubious benefit (and possibly harm) • Clinical and ethical issues of treating patients post-op

  14. Competitive Strategies • Increase alliances with pharmaceutical and biotech industries • Recruit wealthy, non-U.S. citizens as patients • Open hospitals in other countries • But non-profit hospitals flourishing • tax breaks • net income up

  15. Competitive Strategies • More aggressive billing practices / charging the uninsured higher prices • Average 2.5X what most health insurers pay and > 3 times actual costs • Result: class action suits • PPACA outlaws

  16. Competitive Strategies Increase cash services (botox treatments, cosmetic surgery) and reimbursable, covered services (e.g., cardiac catheterization, bone density testing) High end maternity suites

  17. Competitive Strategies • Cut back on uncovered services: e.g., ER staffing • “Triaging out” – redirecting low acuity patients from ER to “other facilities” • University of Chicago overturned policy in response to protests (2009) • ACEP and AAEM opposes such policies

  18. Competitive Strategies • Advertising • Often promote high-paying, unproved, or cosmetic services • Arch Int Med 2005;165:645-51 • Outsource radiology/transcription services to physicians in developing world • e.g., MGH and Yale X-rays → India (they have since ended agreements) • Privacy, quality concerns

  19. Competitive Strategies • Pay sports teams for privilege of being team doctors (in return for free publicity) • Methodist Hospital – Houston Texans • NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases – NY Mets • Develop luxury primary care clinics • AKA “executive health clinics”, “boutique medicine”, “concierge care”, “VIP clinics”

  20. Recruitment of Wealthy Non-US Citizens • 60,000 – 85,000 patients/yr • Estimated 1-2% of hospitals’ revenues • Number estimated to quadruple in next few years • Recruitment worldwide • Hospitals forming consortia to target certain countries, including those with national health plans

  21. Recruitment of Wealthy Non-US Citizens • Doctors sent on overseas speaking and recruitment tours • Patients offered rapid access to state-of-the-art care

  22. Recruitment of Wealthy Non-US Citizens • Payment at “retail rate,” well above what government and private insurance reimburse • Immediate access to face-to-face translators • Only spottily available to uninsured, non-English speaking patients

  23. Recruitment of Wealthy Non-US Citizens • Patients have not paid taxes in support of medical education and health care subsidies • The federal government spends about $10 billion/yr to pay medical schools and teaching hospitals for medical education and training • State and local governments provide $2-3 billion/yr in additional subsidies

  24. Recruitment of Wealthy Non-US Citizens • Health needs may not be as pressing (and are usually more costly) than the needs of those living in poverty in their home countries • Academic medical centers often refuse non-emergent care to non-US citizen refugees and undocumented aliens

  25. Overseas Clinics and Hospitals Academic medical centers owning and/or operating clinics and hospitals overseas Substantially lower costs (most surgeries 50-90% less expensive) Many hospitals accredited, staffed by U.S.-trained physicians

  26. Overseas Clinics and Hospitals • AMA guidelines exist • Regulations imperfect • Risks include lack of follow-up, exposure to regional infectious diseases, limited malpractice options

  27. Overseas Clinics and Hospitals • Examples: • Cleveland Clinic: Abu Dhabi, UAE • Duke University: Duke-National University of Singapore • Johns Hopkins: Cancer center in Singapore International Medical Center

  28. Overseas Clinics and Hospitals • Examples: • Mayo Clinic : Dubai • Cornell-Weill Medical College: Qatar • University of Pittsburgh: transplant center in Palermo, Sicily, Italy • MD Anderson Cancer Center: MD Anderson International-España in Madrid, Spain

  29. Boutique Medicine • Retainer Fee Medical Practice • Large/expensive vs. small/less expensive (sometimes for the uninsured) • Qliance • Premier Care, Valet Care, VIP Care, Gold Care, Platinum Care • Luxury Primary Care / Executive Health Clinics

  30. Boutique Medicine • Medi-Spas • Cosmetic procedures, massage, aromatherapy, cosmeceutical sales • Generate over $1 billion annually in US • Travel medicine clinics for exotic destinations • Direct sales to patients of health and nutritional products, home laboratory and genome testing kits

  31. Urgent Care Clinics • 9,300 nationwide • 3 million visits /wk • Could avert 1/5 ER visits

  32. Other Specialized Primary Care Clinics • On-site corporate clinics • 1,200 companies host 2,200 clinics • Serve 4% of working Americans • Telemedicine/videomedicine )advice lines, cannot prescribe, increasingly common overseas (take U.S. calls) • Self-service kiosks

  33. Retail Outlet Clinics • Approximately 1400 in U.S. • 6 million visits (2009) • 44% of visits on nights and weekends • MinuteClinic (CVS Caremark); Health Systems LLC (Walgreen’s); Walmart; others • Major health insurers opening retail clinics, hoping to sell new policies

  34. Retail Outlet Clinics • Quality of care good for simple problems • Number may increase with PPACA (due to lack of primary care providers) • Almost 2/3 of current customers have no PCP

  35. Retail Outlet Clinics • Problems include • Fragmentation of care • Incomplete records • Inadequate communication with PCPs • Lost opportunity for ongoing contact with PCP • Less common in low SES and minority neighborhoods

  36. Factors Which Might Encourage Retainer Fee Medical PracticeJ Clin Ethics 2005(Spring):72-84 • Tight office schedules, long delays for appointments, short visit lengths • Authorization requirements of insurance companies, HMOs, and Medicare

  37. Factors Which Might Encourage Retainer Fee Medical Practice • Insufficient time to return phone calls • Non-reimbursable • Congested ERs, with long delays for patients with minor illnesses who are unable to access PCP • Patients referred to specialists for problems that do not necessarily require a specialist’s care • Specialist referrals up outside luxury care, partly due to busy, short PCP visits

  38. Factors Which Might Encourage Retainer Fee Medical Practice • Frequent changes in PCP, abetted by: • Hospitalist movement • Employers seeking cheaper plans, which provide narrower range of coverage • Insurance company de-listing of physicians based on economic criteria • Physician extenders (NPs and Pas) • Less time for patient-care advocacy • Less time for CME

  39. Luxury Primary Care Clinics • Some are solo and small group practices • 4,400 - 5,000 physicians (includes “direct primary care” and “hybrid” practices) • Direct primary care • E.g., Qliance ($44-$129 per month, 70-75% already insured) • Some evidence shows cost reductions, unnecessary tests averted, ER visits reduced, hospital stays shorter

  40. Luxury Primary Care Clinics • Hybrid Practice: Physicians see both concierge (80%) and regular (20%) patients • E.g., Concierge Choice Physicians, Atlas MD • Paying by time • E.g., DocTalker Family Medicine - $300-$400 per hour • Cash-only practices • To avoid insurance company hassles, simplifies billing

  41. Luxury Primary Care Clinics • Some affiliated with large corporations • Executive Health Registry • Executive Health Exams International • OneMD • MDVIP (largest concierge corporation) • 24 practices in 7 states, with 40 more practices in the works • Purchased by Procter and Gamble

  42. Luxury Primary Care • Professional Organization: • American Society of Concierge Physicians (ASCP) → Society for Innovative Medical Practice Design (SIMPD) • American Academy of Private Physicians (AAPP)

  43. Luxury Primary Care Clinics • University-affiliated: • Mayo Clinic (3000 pts/yr); Cleveland Clinic (3500 pts/yr); MGH (2000 pts/yr) • Johns Hopkins, Penn, New York Presbyterian, Washington University, UCSF, UCLA, many others

  44. Luxury Primary Care Clinics • Annual exams last 1-2 days • $2000 - $4000 per visit for baseline package (range $1500 - $20,000) • Additional tests extra • Physicians available 24/7/365 by phone/pager for additional fee

  45. Luxury Primary Care Clinics • Patient/physician ratios 10-25% of typical managed care levels • Physicians cut current panel size, but often keep some patients, including the uninsured (“hybrid practice”)

  46. Luxury Primary Care Clinics:Perks and Pampering • Tests, subspecialty consultations available same day • Patients jump the queue, sometimes delaying tests on other patients with more appropriate and urgent needs • Special shirts • Gold cards

  47. Luxury Primary Care Clinics:Perks and Pampering • Vaccines (in short supply elsewhere) always available • Valet parking • Escorts • Plush bathrobes • High thread count sheets

  48. Luxury Primary Care Clinics:Perks and Pampering • Fancy decorations • Oak-paneled waiting rooms with high-backed leather chairs and fine art • Polished marble bathrooms • TVs, computers, fax machines • Dedicated chefs • Saunas and massages

  49. Aside Regarding Amenities • Improvements in amenities cost hospitals more than improvements in quality of care, but improved amenities have a greater effect on hospital volume • Unclear what effect is on patients’ welfare and overall costs of care

  50. Luxury Primary Care Clinics • Capitalize on widespread dissatisfaction with managed care and too-busy physicians with inadequate time to provide comprehensive care and counseling • Appeal to patients’ desires to receive the latest high-tech diagnostic and therapeutic interventions