Inevitably it’s 5 p.m. on a Friday night, and your child’s fever is 105. With concierge medicine, your doctor is just a phone call or text away—even after hours.
When your child is sick, access is everything—a concept that served as the inspiration behind the founding of Connected Health Pittsburgh.
“I got interested in concierge medicine when my kids were little,” said Betty Rich, CEO of Connected Health Pittsburgh. “As I got older, I would ask my primary care physician a question, and I’d get referred elsewhere.”
Rich, a pharmacist, previously owned a specialty pharmacy where she was known for providing the information patients needed—and if she didn’t have the answer, she’d figure it out. “At that time, it was all about taking care of our customers,” shared Rich. “We wanted to make sure that our patients knew everything they needed to know.”
With fewer patients than traditional doctors, concierge doctors have the luxury of more time with each patient to talk about issues and to consider how they relate to patients’ overall health.
“The concept of primary care should center around a patient being proactive about personal health. It’s not just sick care,” said Rich. “If we can look out for things in our 30s, 40s and 50s, we can prevent future problems from developing.”
What is Concierge Medicine?
Similar to a hotel concierge, the idea behind concierge medicine is personal service. Patients—identified as members—pay a membership fee for enhanced personal service.
This enhanced level of care means your health care provider will be available for you when the need arises. For most members of concierge medicine, scheduling appointments after normal office hours provides an added benefit. For sick visits, same-day visits are the norm.
Sometimes the timing of an injury or illness makes getting to the doctor’s office difficult. At Epic Medical, house calls are included in the membership fee at no additional cost. Epic Medical also limits the number of members it accepts into its practice in order to provide comprehensive and personalized medical care.
No matter which type of concierge service you choose, keeping a personal health insurance policy remains critical. To save on premiums, consider combining concierge healthcare with an insurance policy that offers a higher deductible.
What if You Need a Specialist?
Even the best primary care provider knows the need for specialists arises from time to time. Drawing from established relationships with numerous specialists, the Epic Medical team recommends a provider and remains in constant contact to coordinate patient care.
The Connected Health team works within the framework of your insurance. “We encourage patients to have insurance,” said Rich. “If you need to see a specialist, we’ll make sure it’s in your network.”
Both Connected Health Pittsburgh and Epic Medical take a wellness approach to healthcare. “We offer personal training, nutrition guidance and therapeutic massage,” explained Rich. “All the things that go into feeling good, getting healthy and staying healthy are here and connected as we work for the best interest of our patients.”
A New Approach to Women’s Health
Dr. Sophia Yen of Pandia Health focuses on a different approach to concierge medicine and women’s health. “In response to unwanted pregnancies, doctors often ask why women don’t take their birth control,” said Yen. “The answer is simple; they don’t have it in their hands.”
For a modest annual fee, Pandia Health makes sure women have the birth control they need when they need it via regular scheduled deliveries. “No one runs out of birth control on our watch,” assured Yen. “We are the only women-founded, women-led and doctor-led company in the birth control delivery space.”
Focusing on more than unwanted pregnancies, Pandia’s doctors also discuss menstrual management with members. “Getting hormones under control often decreases other diseases including depression, acne and arthritis,” said Yen.
Recently launched in Pittsburgh, Pandia Health cost $20 a year with insurance if you want to use Pandia Health’s doctors. If you use your own doctor, the delivery service is free. And, if you don’t have insurance, it’s $15 a pack.
Whether you’re looking for answers concerning birth control, diet, exercise or just overall wellness, Concierge medicine is one way you can take ownership of your healthcare.
“We have all become very complacent to what primary care has become,” said Rich. “We accept it and don’t demand better.”