Concierge Medicine in Atlanta Special by WSBTV

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24/7 Access to Physicians & More. A Look at Concierge Medicine.

[/fusion_text][fusion_text]Below is a recent special segment that WSB did on the concierge medicine model in Atlanta and featured Buckhead Medicine and Dr. Espinosa! The video and article will give you additional insight into the benefits of concierge medicine and our approach to patient care. You will even hear from one of our first patient’s who have several generations at our practice. Enjoy![/fusion_text][youtube id=”ZRmNSPXNOGw” width=”600″ height=”350″ autoplay=”no” api_params=”” class=””][/youtube][fusion_text]Does your doctor offer same-day appointments, priority treatments and home visits? A new trend called concierge medicine offers all that and personalized care, but it comes at a cost.

“I mean I’ve never had such good health care,” Lucinda Whitehead said.

Lucinda and Pat Whitehead started seeing Dr. Edward Espinosa, a concierge doctor, about five years ago.

dr espinosa concierge medicine“Our son found Dr. Espinosa and we had thought about a concierge doctor before but hadn’t really gone to investigate it,” Lucinda Whitehead said.

The retired couple wanted more face time with their physician.

“What it entails is more personalized care, more time,” Espinosa said.

Espinosa’s patients pay a separate fee, either monthly, quarterly or annually, in addition to the regular cost of their doctor’s appointment.

“We try to make it more affordable so we offer monthly membership fees as low as $100 a month,” Espinosa said.

Younger patients pay less. Older ones with more medical problems can pay up to $200 a month.

“It pays for itself,” Lucinda Whitehead said.

“You feel like it pays for itself?” Channel 2 anchor Jovita Moore asked.

“I do too,” Pat Whitehead said.

“I’m 76 and Pat is 82. And we have little stuff going on now that you didn’t have when you were 25. I’ve been sick where I would have paid him four times that for the care I got,” Lucinda Whitehead said.

What are patients getting for their money?

“Same- or next-day appointments, always having access to me,” Espinosa said.

Patients of concierge doctors don’t spend much time in the waiting room. If their appointment is at 3 o’clock the doctor sees them right at 3 o’clock.

Even when he’s on vacation, patients can call Espinosa’s cellphone, text or email him.

“If I’m in Europe or if I’m in Mexico, wherever I might be, they’re able to reach me,” Espinosa said.

Espinosa visits his patients in the hospital to help coordinate their care with the hospitals’ doctors.  He also makes house calls.

“But once I just couldn’t get out of bed. He he had an X-ray machine sent to me and I did have pneumonia,” Lucinda Whitehead said.

“We do home visits and so we’re out in the community and I’m carrying my little bag.  And we have people come up to us and say, ‘I cannot believe you’re doing this,’” Espinosa said.

Concierge medicine atlanta interview wsbtvEspinosa accepts insurance, but will see patients without it.

“And it is just a per visit fee on top of the membership fee,” Espinosa said.

He says that fee allows him to spend extra time with his patients.

“Most people want this level of service. This is the way health care used to be,” he said.

Channel 2 consumer adviser Clark Howard says concierge medicine has a lot to offer, if you can afford it.

“People who have a lot of money want to have the same kind of personalized experience at the doctor as they have in everything else that money can buy. It is absolutely a part of our future,” Howard said.

“I’m dedicating my life to my patients. I value that relationship. I want them to be healthy,” Espinosa said.

He believes a good doctor-patient relationship can lead to better health.

“Ultimately, if you combine quality medical care with more personalized, better communication you can have better outcomes,” Espinosa said.

“It’s worth every penny; it really is,” Lucinda Whitehead said.

Espinosa said he currently has about 300 patients. He said once he reaches 400 patients, he plans to hire another doctor who will see the new patients.[/fusion_text][fusion_text]Video and content originally appeared on WSB here.[/fusion_text][/one_full][separator style_type=”none” top_margin=”10px” bottom_margin=”10px” sep_color=”#ffffff” border_size=”” icon=”” icon_circle=”” icon_circle_color=”” width=”” alignment=”center” class=”” id=””][button link=”#” color=”default” size=”” stretch=”” type=”” shape=”” target=”_self” title=”” gradient_colors=”|” gradient_hover_colors=”|” accent_color=”” accent_hover_color=”” bevel_color=”” border_width=”” icon=”” icon_position=”left” icon_divider=”no” modal=”” animation_type=”0″ animation_direction=”left” animation_speed=”1″ animation_offset=”” alignment=”center” class=”footer-button modal-trigger-one” id=””]Request Quote[/button]

Atlanta Doctor Switches From Hospital Practice to Concierge Medicine

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Dr. Espinosa’s Journey to Buckhead Medicine

[/fusion_text][fusion_text]Below is a recent interview Dr. Espinosa did on why and how he made the move to concierge medicine.[/fusion_text][fusion_text]For Espinosa, building a concierge medicine practice from the ground up represented a huge challenge. However, he saw it as the best path to long-term financial stability and career satisfaction.

“Concierge medicine seemed like something that I could continue into my retirement years and still enjoy,” he says. “I went into medicine because I like caring for people and I felt like I couldn’t do that well in an environment where it’s all about volume.”

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Starting Out

[/fusion_text][fusion_text]In between his shifts as a hospitalist, Espinosa talked to friends who were running successful concierge practices in California. He also conducted extensive market research and hired a consultant to help him develop a business plan.

Location is the most important initial consideration, he says. He eventually decided on the Buckhead section of Atlanta, a relatively affluent and vibrant neighborhood with the potential to support a membership-based practice.

While encouraged by the success of other concierge practices, he was cognizant of the unique challenges of his situation. Most physicians who transition to concierge already run established traditional practices and are able to immediately convert a percentage of those patients into paying members.

However, Espinosa started from scratch when he opened Buckhead Medicine in 2008.[/fusion_text][fusion_text]Read to learn more about our Concierge Medicine pricing in Atlanta.[/fusion_text][fusion_text]To stay afloat, Espinosa continued to work full-time at the hospital, while maintaining a part-time schedule at his new office. The traditional seven days on/seven days off hospitalist schedule facilitated the arrangement, allowing him to keep regular outpatient office hours during his weeks away from the hospital.

He maintained that schedule for several years as he gradually ramped up to 50 patients over the first two years. Some of his first patients were those he had cared for as a hospitalist or patients referred by hospital colleagues.

The most effective marketing was through word-of-mouth, he says. The concierge concept was relatively new at the time and its message resonated with people who were frustrated with their current providers and looking for alternatives.

“Many people said they had no meaningful relationship with their physician, had to wait a long time for appointments, and often didn’t even get their phone calls returned,” he says. “What we heard over and over was that their current care was impersonal, and those frustrations were a major factor in growing our practice.”

Gradually, Espinosa began reducing his hospitalist shifts and adding office hours as he reached 150 patients in his fourth year — halfway to his goal. He also added staff, including two nurse practitioners, one front-desk administrator, and one floater who helps wherever needed.

Bedside manner is always important but even more so when hiring in a concierge practice, he notes. He looks for extremely customer-focused employees who will reassure patients that they “have a meaningful relationship with our practice.”

It took seven years to grow his patient panel to 300, but the practice now enjoys steady growth. Espinosa has a waiting list for new patients and plans to hire another physician within the next year.[/fusion_text][fusion_text]

Issues and Challenges

[/fusion_text][fusion_text]Patients who join Buckhead Medicine pay a membership fee that can be as low as $100 per month, which covers an expanded menu of services and 24/7 access to providers.

The practice also accepts all major insurance plans and handles billing for services covered under patients’ plans.

At first, the practice asked for the annual fee upfront but many patients were put off by the prospect of making such a large commitment, says Espinosa. He now uses an automated recurring billing service, which has relieved the front desk of the burden of monitoring collections and ensured a steady revenue stream.

“Automated monthly billing changed things drastically for the better,” he says. “It made it easier for patients to join and created a more predictable finan- cial model for our practice.”

The biggest administrative headache now is billing insurers and tracking reimbursements, he says. However, the practice has continued to offer it as an added service for patients.

“We’ve gone back and forth about whether it’s worth it because there’s so much work involved with getting reimbursement from commercial insurers and Medicare,” he says. “But we haven’t dropped it because our patients want things to happen in a streamlined fashion.”

In recent months, handling growth has become the biggest challenges, he says.

“It’s a healthy, busy practice now and we want to continue to provide the level of service people expect,” says Espinosa. “That requires us to sometimes pull back and resist growing so fast that our customer service would suffer.”

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Reaping the Benefits

[/fusion_text][fusion_text]On a typical day, Espinosa sees between seven and 10 patients, traveling between his office, the hospital, and patients’ homes. That leaves enough flexibility in his schedule to handle emergencies without having to cancel scheduled appointments.

For example, one of his patients came in recently with symptoms of dehydration and a urinary tract infection. He was able to see her in the office that afternoon and administer intravenous fluids and antibiotics, potentially preventing a trip to the emergency department.

If a patient is in the hospital, Espinosa connects with the attending physician and helps coordinate care by transferring patient records and following the patient’s progress throughout his stay.

He then schedules a follow-up visit at his office within three days of discharge and keeps close tabs on the patient’s progress. His EHR system is compatible with the systems used at three major Atlanta-area hospitals, allowing him to easily pull up discharge summaries.

“I have a very close follow-up with our patients to prevent unnecessary readmissions,” he says. “We are tracking our readmission rates and seeing much better results than national averages, and that’s because we have the time and flexibility in our schedule to provide that extra service.”[/fusion_text][fusion_text]When general internist Edward Espinosa began his career at Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta nine years ago, he planned to eventually transition from hospital to office-based practice. However, the more he learned about the frustrations of the traditional fee-for-service environment, the less confident he became about taking that path.

“The hospital was willing to set me up in a clinic but then I found out that I would need to see 25 patients a day,” says Espinosa, 43, who now runs Buckhead Medicine in Atlanta. “It defeated the reason I wanted to practice outpatient medicine in the first place, which was to decrease my volume of patients and be less impersonal and rushed.”

He did some research into alternative practice models and zeroed in on concierge medicine, where patients pay an annual fee or retainer in exchange for enhanced care and expanded access to providers. The model has gained popularity in recent years, according to the 2014 Survey of America’s Physicians conducted by executive search firm Merritt Hawkins, which reports that about 7 percent of all physicians currently practice some form of concierge or direct-pay medicine while 13 percent have plans to do so at some point in their careers.[/fusion_text][/one_full][fullwidth background_color=”#898989″ background_image=”” background_parallax=”none” enable_mobile=”no” parallax_speed=”0.3″ background_repeat=”no-repeat” background_position=”left top” video_url=”” video_aspect_ratio=”16:9″ video_webm=”” video_mp4=”” video_ogv=”” video_preview_image=”” overlay_color=”” overlay_opacity=”0.5″ video_mute=”yes” video_loop=”yes” fade=”no” border_size=”0px” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” padding_top=”20″ padding_bottom=”20″ padding_left=”10″ padding_right=”10″ hundred_percent=”no” equal_height_columns=”no” hide_on_mobile=”no” menu_anchor=”” class=”” id=””][fusion_text]

Lessons Learned

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Physician Edward Espinosa started Atlanta-based Buckhead Concierge Internal Medicine from scratch when he decided to switch from hospital to outpatient practice. He offers the following advice for others looking to make the transition:

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Consider Location

[/fusion_text][fusion_text]Perform an extensive demographic analysis of the zip codes you’re considering before signing a lease, says Espino- sa. Many successful practices are located in affluent, urban neighborhoods that can sup- port growth.[/fusion_text][/one_fourth][one_fourth last=”no” spacing=”yes” center_content=”no” hide_on_mobile=”no” background_color=”” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” background_position=”left top” hover_type=”none” link=”” border_position=”all” border_size=”0px” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” padding=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” animation_type=”0″ animation_direction=”down” animation_speed=”0.1″ animation_offset=”” class=”” id=””][fusion_text]

Seek Help

[/fusion_text][fusion_text]Talking to other physicians with established concierge practices can help you avoid common mistakes, he says.You might also con- sider hiring a consultant to help with initial setup.[/fusion_text][/one_fourth][one_fourth last=”no” spacing=”yes” center_content=”no” hide_on_mobile=”no” background_color=”” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” background_position=”left top” hover_type=”none” link=”” border_position=”all” border_size=”0px” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” padding=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” animation_type=”0″ animation_direction=”down” animation_speed=”0.1″ animation_offset=”” class=”” id=””][fusion_text]

Be Patient

[/fusion_text][fusion_text]It took seven years for Espinosa to reach his goal of signing on 300 patients. To survive financially, he con- tinued to work at the hospital until his new practice took off.[/fusion_text][/one_fourth][one_fourth last=”yes” spacing=”yes” center_content=”no” hide_on_mobile=”no” background_color=”” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” background_position=”left top” hover_type=”none” link=”” border_position=”all” border_size=”0px” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” padding=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” animation_type=”0″ animation_direction=”down” animation_speed=”0.1″ animation_offset=”” class=”” id=””][fusion_text]

Create a Business Plan

[/fusion_text][fusion_text]You should have a clear business plan before you spend a penny on converting. You need to understand the financial model and come up with realistic numbers for your expected growth.[/fusion_text][/one_fourth][/fullwidth][separator style_type=”none” top_margin=”10px” bottom_margin=”10px” sep_color=”#ffffff” border_size=”” icon=”” icon_circle=”” icon_circle_color=”” width=”” alignment=”center” class=”” id=””][button link=”#” color=”default” size=”” stretch=”” type=”” shape=”” target=”_self” title=”” gradient_colors=”|” gradient_hover_colors=”|” accent_color=”” accent_hover_color=”” bevel_color=”” border_width=”” icon=”” icon_position=”left” icon_divider=”no” modal=”” animation_type=”0″ animation_direction=”left” animation_speed=”1″ animation_offset=”” alignment=”center” class=”footer-button modal-trigger-one” id=””]Request Quote[/button]