very private medicine

(excerpted from The Boston Globe)
MDs offer new services, for $3,600 yearly fee
By Liz Kowalczyk, Globe Staff
June 30, 2007

Two popular Boston internists are closing their busy practices, leaving most of their 7,500 patients to find new doctors, as the physicians open a small concierge practice that will charge individuals a $3,600 yearly fee to join.

Dr. Jeffrey Bass, 50, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Dr. Ronald Katz, 51, of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, are the latest physicians to give up large traditional medical practices, in which doctors see a patient every 15 to 30 minutes, in favor of a slower pace and potentially higher income.
Concierge medical practices, despite criticism that they shut out all but the well-off, continue to attract doctors and many patients who say the practices let physicians provide more personal care in an unhurried atmosphere.

Some of the extras Bass and Katz are promising were once considered standard parts of a doctor’s portfolio, but now, most primary care doctors say they are too busy to provide them. Most notably: visiting patients in the hospital, same-day appointments, and nearly around-the-clock access to their doctor.

“I understand why the doctors are doing it,” said Dr. Richard Parker, medical director of the Beth Israel Deaconess physician organization. “They want more time with patients, fewer hassles, to get paid better. But it’s a symptom of the poor state of affairs in primary care; many doctors are looking for the exit.”

Bass and Katz, who plan to open their new practice in September, mailed letters to their patients and created a website explaining the change earlier this month. Katz said his new practice, to be called PersonalMDs, will allow him “to practice a bit of old-fashioned medicine” at a “less intense and frenetic pace.” He works about 55 hours a week now, he said, and sees 25 patients a day. He expects to work a similar number of hours, but see far fewer patients daily, and the practice will accept only 800. Among the services Katz and Bass will offer are long visits, “24/7 availability,” a waiting room with Internet access, a yearly consultation with a nutritionist, and home visits.

Bass said he expects to have 400 patients signed up by next week, “which shows me there’s a need and want.” A number of his patients are doctors, he said, which “validates the model.”

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