Concierge Care - Part I, FierceHealthcare, Baylor Heart Hospital

NOTE: I'll be doing a multi-part posting series covering concierge care. Welcome to Part I!

Anyone not yet reading all applicable newsletters published by Fiercemarkets.com should start - yesterday. The FierceHealthcare e-newsletter is particularly comprehensive, and editor Anne Zieger usually puts out a good meat-n-potatoes editorial.

Anne recently tackled concierge care here (6.1.07 edition). And although I'm repeating a bit for emphasis, anyone not yet reading all applicable materials about concierge/executive care programs should start - yesterday.

The whole point here folks is that if you're not planning for the hospital/hotel cross-pollination, you're going to be left in the dust. Whether you offer heart exams for working professionals for a fixed fee of $99, a spa-style women's breast health day for $250 (targeted towards the trend of multi-generational spa visits - more on this later), or an annual wellness program for executives (fee upon request), if hospitality care is not part of your service line makeup, get your strategic planning folks on it, pronto.

If you consider these kinds of amenities or self-pay services fluff ("but Jen, 65% of my patient population pays with Medicare.") - ask yourself one question: do you Starbucks? If the answer is yes, then you know what happened when a little coffee shop from Seattle made worldwide coffee excellence its mission. People - and yes, patients ARE people - have become well-adjusted to the massclusivity market provided by Starbucks, Target, etc.

The hospital arena, although a late-comer to the idea of patient care as customer/guest service, will need to adjust to the demanding wants of an increasingly needy patient population. With cost transparency also on the rise, patients of the future may select a hospital based on the holy trinity (or unholy, depending upon how advanced your planning has been) of cost, comfort, and reputation/excellence in care.

As a consultant who's also been an ortho patient with 15 procedures under my belt, I can't harp on this enough - and hopefully this topic isn't a surprise to most of you.

In Texas last week, I took a few minutes to wander the halls at The Heart Hospital (Baylor) in Texas. In addition to concierges/greeters at the front desk area, Baylor has a concierge on each floor.

If you want a picture of what the future in safe, excellent patient care looks like (from the patient's persective, no less), feast your eyes on this (from Baylor Heart Hospital website):

"The room amenities and finish-out may remind patients more of a luxurious hotel room than a hospital room.

Dining options have been updated, too. A 24-hour, on-line, individualized menu aligned with each patient’s dietary restrictions, if any, allows patients or family members to order from the comfort of their room. Room service deliveries will be made in 45 minutes or less. Staying in touch with friends, family or business associates will be easy since every room has Internet connectivity. Although these amenities create a comfortable environment, every patient room can be quickly converted into an intensive care environment should sudden changes in the patient’s condition warrant such a measure.

The first-floor Starbucks® café offers another location to enjoy the company of families and friends. A third-level outdoor terrace sitting area entices patients and families to enjoy Texas’ hearty sunlight!

Questions about general hospital services or services outside the hospital can be directed to concierge staff offices on every patient floor. Patients and visitors may use valet parking in front of The Heart Hospital Baylor Plano or park themselves in the multi-story, covered parking adjacent to, and within easy walking distance of, the hospital."

Baylor's Heart Hospital is just one example of stellar care offerings I'll be posting in the next few days. Check back - will your hospital be mentioned?


DigitalMom said...

Dear Ms. Gorman:

Anne Zieger of FierceHealthcare here. I'm delighted you find our work at FierceMarkets.com to be useful! Thanks for the kind words.


Dr Andy said...

I left a busy group practice in Fort Myers, Florida in 2005 to start my house-call based concierge practice. Originally I tried to deal with insurances but since none pay for house-calls, and Medicare only reimburses minimally, I couldn't make it viable. In our area it's not uncommon for me to drive 30-45min between visits and I typically spend 45-60min with a patient. Hence I was drawn to the concierge business model. I am still the ONLY concierge physician in South-West Florida exclusively making house-calls in Lee and Collier counties.
No mistake, my services are a luxury item and convenience for most of my patients. I charge $2000-$6000 a year per person, depending on age, size of family, and location.
I know it's not the answer to our health care crisis, but I certainly love my job again! Besides I get to see my kids more.
Two other key points for the lay-person to understand. Just because I charge above what insurance pays, doesn't make me rich. I actually made less than our city pays bus drivers for the past 2 years, although admittedly the potential is significant. Also, even though most of my patients are the "rich and famous" of our area, doesn't absolve me or any concierge physician of our responsibility to the community. In fact this is a responsibility of each of my patients as well.
I continue to be an active office in the US Army Reserve, chair the Health Advisory Committee of the Lee County School District, volunteer as a Guardian ad Litem serving abused and neglected kids, teach Head Start program moms about child care, etc...
No, concierge medicine isn't for everyone, but it certainly has worked for me and my patients.
Andrew Oakes-Lottridge, MD
Personalized Health Care, Inc.