Concierge services make house calls for just about anything ‒ if you can afford it
It may seem an antiquated notion, but doctors making house calls never really went away. In the COVID era, they’re surging as patients take advantage of concierge doctor services to avoid the risk and chaos of hospitals. It’s certainly not cheap, but for those who can afford it, having a concierge doctor on call 24/7 is worth it. And unlike the old days, they can access services via an app anytime day or night.
At various times throughout the course of the pandemic, hospitals in different parts of the country have been overrun. Unable to contain all their COVID-19 patients in ICU wards, some have had to use additional floors. Even though Americans 65 and older have the highest vaccination rate of any age group, hospitals have had a higher than normal risk of infection, and seniors don’t want to go if they don’t have to.
Hospitals have also had to put off elective surgeries and procedures for a lot of patients with so many resources devoted to treating COVID-19. But elective procedures can only be put off for so long before they become necessary. Even just shortening the amount of time spent at the hospital can make recovering patients feel better.
With that in mind, services such as Care & Recovery in Los Angeles provide in-home nursing care for people recovering from plastic and elective surgeries. Packages range from $595 for four hours to $1,995 for 24 hours. They include transportation after surgery and to any follow-up visits, medical care, even meal prep and light housework. They’ll even help you book a five-star hotel if you’re in from out of town.
There’s plenty of evidence that people recover better at home than in a hospital. You get to sleep in your own bed surrounded by familiar things and have the psychological comfort of privacy and family. There’s also, even in pre-COVID times, less chance of infection post-surgery, a key factor in recovery for anyone, but especially older patients.
There are plenty of procedures much less complicated and serious than surgery that people would really like to get done without exposing themselves to infection. Lab tests (including COVID testing), X-rays, ECGs, even monoclonal antibody therapy for COVID. All are offered by in-home concierge doctor service Concierge MD, which started in L.A. but has expanded to several areas of the U.S.
“In California we’re performing close to 100 in-home services per day ‒ between IVs, COVID tests, medical house calls ‒ this is about a five-time multiple from pre-COVID,” Dr. Abe Malkin told FOX Business. “We’re also doing approximately 2,000-plus corporate tests weekly, which obviously wasn’t a category before. In addition to the growth in à la carte services, concierge membership signups have also doubled since COVID began.”
Baby Boomers have spent less than they usually do during the pandemic, and they’re ready to spend that savings on more personalized, higher-quality services such as those MDVIP and Sollis Health offer.
“We’ve seen growth during the pandemic, and we’ve seen it nationally and in L.A. as well,” MDVIP CEO Bret Jorgensen told KCRW radio. “So, the pandemic has actually been a positive impact on our business in terms of membership growth, and that’s been true in almost every market in the country.”
Patients “value this model of care and we expect them to stick around for the long haul.”
Not all concierge doctor services are for the wealthy alone. With a monthly membership fee of $149, Forward offers 24/7 telemedicine services for everything from primary care to heart health. The service focuses on preventive care, promising to save members money with maintenance programs and testing that help them avoid illness in the first place and rapid diagnostics if they do. Members get a full-body biometric scan at the first in-person visit to assess their overall health profiles.
“The pandemic has further exposed the limitations of traditional healthcare, and the band-aid of telehealth alone does not solve the problem. We’re grateful that our investors have recognized this and are backing a new healthcare system that requires no insurance and no co-pay,” Adrian Aoun, CEO and co-founder of Forward, said in a statement.
Forward has physical locations in a smattering of major cities, but 24/7 remote care is available nationwide through the company’s app.
With more doctors moving into the concierge space, there’s a risk of leaving patients behind and exacerbating a shortage of care in already underserved areas.
“If wealthy people can opt out and design their own system that’s only available to them, then we have less ability to fix the system for everybody,” Kiran Savage-Sangwan, executive director of the California Pan Ethnic Healthcare Network, told KCRW.
For those able to see a doctor in the comfort of their own home or avoid long wait times, concierge services are just what the doctor ordered.