Doctor limits practice to ‘members’
August 31, 2010
Kim Scott is a different kind of Park City doctor. Her internal medicine practice is contracted with a company called MDVIP.
As the name suggests, physicians under contract have an exclusive patient list. Anyone can join MDVIP for an annual fee and in return receive a higher level of care from participating physicians.
Scott said she gets more satisfaction from her practice because she can guarantee her best work to every patient. She is the only MDVIP doctor in Utah, but the company has over 400 in 30 states. The idea isn’t new, but seems to have caught on slowly in the West, she said.
The typical physician providing general medicine has a patient list of 2,400 and spends an average of eight minutes with each person who comes in, said MDVIP president Mark Murrison.
"It’s a conveyer belt," he said.
As a result, doctors are always reactive. They don’t have the time or financial incentive to discuss disease prevention, he said.
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MDVIP changes that by allowing physicians to afford quality time with every single patient.
Critics have called it "country club medicine," but Murrison believes the annual fee is an investment in health people should make as they would for retirement. It equates to $4 per day, which is less than many unhealthy expenditures people make.
"We believe it’s not a value decision, but a values decision," he said.
Scott compared her services to a physical trainer. People are willing to pay a little more for better coaching in reaching their fitness goals.
Part of the special treatment is an in-depth physical. It takes about two hours to complete including the running of tests.
"It’s terribly rewarding because I can be thorough and feel like I’m not missing things," she said. "After 30 years in practice, I’m really having fun again."
After the physical, the report is burned onto a mini-disc that fits in a wallet. Whenever a member travels, they not only have access to MDVIP doctors in other states, but with the mini-disc, that doctor has a full medical history, she said.
Park City residents travel so much, Scott believes this is the best way to ensure quality care no matter where one goes. It can be tricky to see a doctor in a strange place, and paying for it can be fraught with bureaucracy. With MDVIP, members get special treatment wherever they go and can see doctors within 48 hours.
"The goal is not to have patients in an emergency room. We immediately admit them and bypass hours of waiting," she said.
Another perk of membership is 24-hour access. Scott said she makes house calls, and patients are given her cell or pager number. She also acts as a liaison between her patients and specialists so they can get all of their questions answered, she said.
A few Internet bloggers have complained that their family doctors quit seeing them because the physician was joining MDVIP. Murrison said that’s actually an advantage in the longer-term.
Having to see so many patients a year to be successful, primary care physicians get burnt out and retire earlier than some other professionals.
Many of the MDVIP doctors, like Scott, have already worked many decades in traditional practices and joined to reduce their workload toward the end of their career. The program has a net benefit of encouraging doctors to practice longer, he said.
Scott also pointed out that there is a crisis in this country of fewer medical students going into general medicine because they can make more money in other specialties. This trend will result in internists having even heavier patient loads. MDVIP is making family medicine more attractive to young doctors.
Helping a patient achieve good health takes time, she said. Doctors aren’t rewarded for spending time with people; they’re rewarded for performing procedures. MDVIP makes it lucrative to give patients quality treatment, she said.
MDVIP is not a form of insurance, Murrison explained. A patient is still encouraged to have a policy, and participating physicians bill it for normal services as any doctor’s office would, he said.
To learn more, visit http://www.MDVIP.com
View Dr. Kim Scott in a larger map