Primary Care Boutiques and Healthcare Reform
During these days when the issue of healthcare reform is at the table of public interest and debate within the United States and where there are almost 50 million people who do not have health insurance, there seems to be a topic in healthcare which has not been discussed or considered within the reform packages. That topic is the issue of luxury primary care practice and clinics. These are the so-called medical “boutiques” which provide for a retainer special medical and associated service which would not be available to other patients. This would include besides a more luxurious clinic environment, more ready access to a physician year round by cell phone or pager, shorter waiting times for a visit, more rapid access to specialist attention, house calls and perhaps easier access for certain vaccines or diagnostic scanning. If with the added patient loads when these 50 million people are able to be able to afford a private physician, the numbers of primary care physicians will become a limiting factor. Boutique medicine practice may only reduce the numbers of physicians available for standard care.
I suggest that visitors to this blog who are interested in learning more about “boutique medicine” should go to the thread I started May 4 2007 “Where Have All Those Doctors Gone?: Coming Back in Boutique Medicine?"
There are links on that thread to additional information on the subject. Also, here is a link to chapter titled “Family Medicine Should Encourage the Development of Luxury Practices: Negative Position” by Martin Donohoe in the book “Ideological Debates in Family Medicine”.
There have been concerns expressed beyond reduction of physicians for standard primary care practice specifically regarding the effect of these boutique practices to raise the cost of all medical care and increase exposure to unnecessary and potentially harmful screening tests simply as a service to the boutique patients.
What do you think? Hopefully, physicians who participate in these services could also participate in the discussion here. ..Maurice.