How concierge medicine is changing the way people access health care | Entertainment/Life4 min read
The concierge medical market in the U.S. is expected to reach $13.3 billion by 2030, up from $6.1 billion in 2022, according to Research and Markets reports.
What is concierge medicine? It’s a subscription-based model of primary care medicine. Most patients pay a membership fee in a concierge practice, usually between $1,500 and $2,400 a year — or $125 to $200 a month, for more direct and ready access to their physician.
In Youngsville, Dr. DeeDee Luke has been practicing concierge medicine since 2016. She said the change from running a traditional practice to a concierge-style practice has helped her feel better connected with her patients’ overall health and wellness planning.
“I’ve been able to make a bigger difference in their health trajectory,” Luke said. “I have relationships with my patients that extend beyond them being a number.”
In Baton Rouge, Dr. Gunjan Raina, who started practicing concierge medicine five years ago, agreed.
“The best way to tell people is that it’s like old-school medicine when a doctor would take care of the mom, the dad, the kids. I really care about my patients,” Raina said. “For me, it’s real connecting with patients.”
Raina said she takes time with her patients.
“At the end of the day, patients want someone to talk to. Taking that time with patients is why I got into medicine,” said Raina, who practiced traditional medicine in Baton Rouge for about 12 years before switching the style of her practice.
“I was seeing a lot of patients and had a nurse practitioner. I could have kept growing that practice, but I didn’t want to practice conveyor belt medicine,” she said. “Now, I serve a smaller volume of patients.”
Raina, who is still affiliated with Baton Rouge General, said most primary care physicians, based on the number of years they’ve been doctors, “have a panel of between 4,000 and 10,000 patients,” and that in the concierge model, most physicians “go down to between 250 and 600 patients.”
She said one of the benefits of being able to devote so much more time to her patients is it cuts down on the number of tests needed. She’s able to sit down and talk with patients to connect the dots of what’s going on.
“I’m not neglecting specialists. They’re important, but I’m going to do as much as we can together and triage,” Raina said. “I focus a lot on food and obesity. I think that is the root of most of our issues.”
Beverly Brooks Thompson has been Raina’s patient since September 2020. The two met 18 months earlier when they were both being interviewed on a radio show.
“I kept asking her questions. ‘What, you do what? How does that work?’” Thompson said.
When Thompson began to have health issues, she decided it was time for a change.
“I was tired of doctors who didn’t listen to me and doctors who didn’t talk to each other,” she said. “I’m not being superfluous, but Dr. Raina changed my life. She looked me up and down and said, ‘I can fix that.’ A lot of people would have been offended, but I wasn’t.”
Thompson has since lost more than 70 pounds.
“She’s not a weight loss doctor, but I said, ‘Let’s go.’ Dr. Raina has played air traffic control for my medical situation. All kidding aside, she did a baseline and said, ‘Let’s get your labs and work where it should be,’” Thompson said. “I have some relatively serious health issues. What I love about it is I can text her and say, ‘I think this is a problem’ — and she’ll call me right back.”
Thompson said she believes the change in approach saved her life.
“My body was in disarray. I was going to docs saying, ‘Something is really wrong,’” Thompson said. “When my mother-in-law said, ‘You’re going to have a stroke. What’s going on?’ I picked up the phone and called Dr. Raina.”
Thompson conceded that she’s not sure if it’s Raina’s tough, no-nonsense approach, but it’s worked for her.
“She’s new-school medicine with old-school practices. She has the time to dive in. Not that other doctors aren’t fantastic, but they have so many deadlines and billing and whatever,” Thompson said. “For me, it’s been worth every penny — and I don’t have extra pennies. I don’t think it’s a luxury for the rich. At the end of the day, it’s saving me money.”