Doc, you realize your office is a lot like Disney World,” an unhappy patient quipped to Mark R. Wheeler, an internist in Louisville. “It’s a three-hour wait for a 20-second ride.”
“That comment spoke volumes about what was going on in my practice,” says Wheeler. “I was always behind. My patients weren’t happy, and neither were my staff, my family, or me.”
Today, Wheeler is a changed man, calling his partner, internist John Varga, and himself “two of the luckiest physicians on the face of this earth.”
The turning point came last September when the two physicians officially opened OneMD—a retainer or concierge-style practice that caps the number of patients at 300 per doctor. In return for a $4,000 annual fee ($6,000 per couple), patients get 24/7 access, reduced in-office waiting time, house calls, an enhanced yearly health exam, and other gold-plated services not generally covered by insurers. About 200 patients to date have enrolled—and the practice is “right on the fringe” of profitability.
“We don’t claim to be practicing better medicine,” says Wheeler, “but the fact that we can spend more time with our patients means they’re going to get better care.” (more…)