Concierge Care A Growing Health Care Trend

NEW YORK (CBS 2) — Do you think going to the doctor is somewhat of a hassle these days? From getting a timely appointment to sitting in a crowded waiting room and having less than 15 minutes of face time with your physician, trips to the doctor can be frustrating to say the least.

Imagine having your doctor at your beck and call, 24 hours a day, in the comfort of your own home. It’s the latest trend in health care, but it can come with a high cost.

Flu season is just about here, but what’s worse than all the coughing and sneezing? Some say it’s having to venture out of the house and wait in the doctor’s office.

However, many now have a medical professional showing up at their door when they’re not feeling well – at any time of the day – with a prescription for whatever medication is needed. The newest health care trend is called “concierge care.”

“You see people as people, you know, in the context of the life they live,” Manhattan internist Dr. Joseph Mulvehill said.

Dr. Mulvehill opened a concierge practice last year.

“We take a lot of time, we explore their issues, we take into consideration where they are in their lives,” Dr. Mulvehill said.

Dr. Mulvehill said all that can’t possibly be done in the 10-minute visit typically allotted by most doctors these days.

Nurse practitioner Raymond Zakhari is also in the business of delivering concierge care.

“I came up with the idea as a result of my own health care experience,” Zakhari said. “I made my appointment to get a physical, and they told me the appointment would be eight weeks later.”

Zakhari said many of his patients are busy professionals who don’t have a lot of extra time. When they need him, they send him a text message or an e-mail or they call his cell phone directly.

He makes a house call for just about every condition, and occasionally he even brings his therapy dog. Everything else is done online, from billing to sending lab results, and he even sends videotaped diagnoses.

“Your blood work was essentially normal – the only abnormality was your vitamin D level,” Zakhari said in one such video.

All of the convenience, though, comes at a cost. Most concierge practices don’t accept insurance and require patients to pay up front. Depending on the patient’s needs, visits can run several hundred dollars.

Some practices like Mulvehill’s charge an annual fee, ranging up to several thousand dollars a year, depending on the level of service the patient requires.

Still, patients like Sylvia Woods say it’s worth it. She was so tired of having to remind her primary care doctor who she was each visit that she and her husband recently converted to Zakhari’s concierge care.

“What don’t I like about it – it’s comfortable, I don’t have to go anywhere,” Woods said.

Critics of concierge care say it’s unfair because not everyone can afford to pay out-of-pocket. While they don’t accept insurance, though, many concierge practices say they’ll help patients submit bills for reimbursement.

  • andyshaw

    NPs and PA concierge medical providers are not that common. What is more common is internal medicine, family doctors and pediatricians providing 24/7 care, same day appointments, house calls, etc. I even read something on twitter the other day from a concierge medicine news source that said 60% of the concierge medical care programs offered to Americans today cost less than $136/mo. That’s really, really affordable!

  • Sergio Villaverde, Esq


    All professionals should be paid what the market will tolerate. That being said maybe you should hire an Attorney to address the regulation issue.

    Concierge medial providers are willing to not deal with such regulations and take their chances in the free market. Bravo to them. You cannot ask for public assistance and then not want to be subject to public regulations. If you want to receive a public benefit then you must benefit the public. So change the regulations or feel free to gather up the intestinal fortitude to go into the free market. Lawyers are not your problem a lack of chutzpah may be. The point of the story on concierge practice is that some people have the courage to seek what they are worth and provide a valuable service in exchange.

  • Raymond Zakhari, NP

    Just one correction: Raymond Zakhari is not a physician’s assistant (PA) he is board certified nurse practitioner (NP).

  • Nemesis xyz

    They need doctors on the Moon and on Mars. I don’t see them rushing to go there. Medical Astronauts, that’s what we need.

  • hjp

    “Critics of concierge care say it’s unfair because not everyone can afford to pay out-of-pocket.” Oh, but it’s fair for lawyers to charge whatever they like, with bills often times running into the hundreds of thousands of dollars??????? It amazes me that people think doctors should work without consideration for their pay or the time away from their families. Did you know that if the hospital calls your doctor at three in the morning about a patient and again, lets say, at 4:15 am., your doctor cannot bill medicare for his time. That’s right, it would be illegal for the doctor to charge because he was not face to face with the patient, but the lawyer could sue your doctor for not waking up and taking the call. Doctors want to help their patients, they just need to be paid fairly. I don’t think that is asking to much. Their is a shortage of doctors in America. Reimbursements are so low, our best and brightest are not becoming doctors.

  • Louis WInthorpe III

    I like this idea.

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