Arkansas Doctors Discover the Joys Of Concierge Care

by Marty Cook  on Monday, Apr. 21, 2014 12:00 am  

Concierge medicine has a reputation of being limited to wealthy patients, but personal physician and former emergency room doctor Amy Beard says, “My fees are less than some people’s cell phone bills.”  Dr. John Furlow says it's possible for a physician to survive on his own with a reduced patient load and no insurance to bill.  | (Photo of Beard by Jason Burt, photo of Furlow by Beth Hall)

“There are a lot of states where it is picking up steam,” Blue said. “Once doctors succeed, others will quickly follow. Once it catches on, it quickly spreads.”

Concierge medicine has the reputation of being for the rich, but Beard and others said that’s not the case.

“My fees are less than some people’s cell phone bills,” Beard said.

Beard said a medical service like hers allows patients to get less — and cheaper — health insurance from their employers or third-party companies for major issues like catastrophic injuries or illnesses. Because concierge doctors such as Beard don’t bill insurance, there is little overhead or wasted fees.

More importantly, Beard said because she has a reduced number of patients she can spend more time with each patient, resulting in better care and better health.

Beard started her practice in October 2013 and has built up a patient list of about 150 with a goal of 300. That’s a welcome switch from her years as a resident in family medicine when she had to see 40 or more patients a day.

“You can’t provide good health care in five minutes,” Beard said. “We are much more complex than a cow. I didn’t like seeing 40 patients a day. I don’t know what they were getting, but it was not health care.”

John Furlow of Fayetteville had a similar epiphany. Furlow was in internal medicine with the Fayetteville Diagnostic Clinic for 13 years before opening his private office in October 2013.

Furlow said he researched the idea of being a personal physician — he uses the term direct primary care physician — for three years before making the jump. He had an advantage Beard did not because he had 2,000 patients at FDC, some of whom have followed him to his private practice.

“I’m doing it the hardest way possible,” Beard said. “I’m building from scratch. A physician already established would have a much easier time doing this.”

Lewis said she found out about Beard’s practice when her sister went to a ribbon cutting for Beard’s Greenbrier office and returned with a brochure. Beard has offices in Greenbrier and Conway and also has “a la carte” services for diet planning, hormone replacement and massage therapy.

Like Beard, Furlow has monthly membership plans, ranging from $60 to $100 depending on age, and he also has a pay-as-you-use-it basic plan. And, like Beard, his office staff is two: the doctor and a manager.



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