Annabelle Neame, Director of Business Development, HCA UK Concierge Centre, looks at the rise of concierge healthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic and whether it is worth the investment
Driven by the realisation of how fragile good health can be and a growing concern to boost immunity, the market demand for concierge healthcare has accelerated during the pandemic.
In fact, such doctors saw a 21% rise in new patients during 2020 and, with the market size predicted to reach $1.93 trillion by 2025, this boom is set to stay.
The Covid-19 pandemic has triggered one of the most challenging periods for the healthcare sector and has had a significant impact on the delivery of primary care. Whilst physicians adapted at pace, moving to telemedicine and online appointments, many elective procedures and routine examinations were postponed. As a result, the number of people on England’s NHS waiting list has reached a record high of 5.6 million.
Amid this backdrop, it is unsurprising that the demand for concierge medical services continues to grow. However, whilst the past 18 months have highlighted the importance of having quick access to healthcare practitioners, there are key factors to consider before deciding if it is the right investment for you.
Rather than having calls fielded by administrators or having to wait months to see a specific doctor, the key benefit of a concierge healthcare service is that they provide direct access to healthcare practitioners and should make it easier to access high-quality medical care, often providing same-day appointments or the ability to text and video chat.
In addition, concierge healthcare offers the certainty of remaining under the care of, and having round the clock access to, the same physician allowing you to get comfortable with your doctor. This familiarity helps to reassure patients that they will receive the care they need, exactly when they need it, and it also makes it easier for practitioners to focus on preventative care.
Typically, we have seen older patients with chronic conditions benefit from concierge healthcare services. However, a more personalised approach to healthcare can also have benefits for younger generations, especially if you have a complicated medical background and therefore require extended appointments to address all your concerns.
Moreover, if you are starting to travel again, then concierge healthcare could be a timely investment. With the emergence of new variants, changing border restrictions and the varying success of vaccination rollouts across the world, there is still a great deal of risk involved.
Many concierge providers focus on lifestyle enhancements over medical expertise and experience. Therefore, having the right provider is key when repatriation is a requirement as it’s not something all are equipped to navigate. For international travel you should consider a concierge healthcare provider that is fully equipped to handle the additional challenges of providing emergency cross-border healthcare and arranging ICU to ICU transfers all over the globe.
Yet, despite the benefits for individuals if trauma or illness occurs overseas and a transfer into healthcare in the UK is needed, concierge medicine may not be the right investment for everyone.
Firstly, it can be expensive and the associated costs can often be prohibitive. As a result, it might not be the most suitable investment for younger patients or those without complex health issues. For example, if you are typically healthy and rarely require medical attention, then you may be more suited to a traditional healthcare practice.
As with any investment, the crucial factor to consider is your initial financial outlay versus your return. If you don’t have a need to see a doctor regularly, then you are not going to make the most of your investment. Moreover, additional costs for specialist consultations, prescriptions and hospital visits may not be included with the service and, depending on your locality, concierge options may be limited. Therefore, review their credentials carefully and make sure that any concierge healthcare service aligns with your anticipated level of support before committing. At the end of the day, you will be trusting them to direct your healthcare.
Ultimately, the pandemic has transformed the landscape for patient care. Individuals are now much more concerned by their health and are increasingly seeking out ways to establish a strong connection with their doctor.
Through providing uninterrupted, direct access to a healthcare physician, concierge medicine is quickly becoming the answer to individuals across the globe. Therefore, whilst typically perceived as a luxury amenity, the narrative has started to shift, with many considering it as an essential. However, whilst many are expecting to see the demand for concierge practices outlast the pandemic, it has to be the right investment for you, your health needs and your finances.