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)

That wouldn’t have happened if she only had two minutes in an office with a patient, Beard said.

“I have no regrets,” Beard said. “I get late-night calls, and I don’t mind at all. That comes with the job. I’ve been on call 24/7 since we opened. It saves a lot of money and time.”

The questions Furlow gets from other doctors are about finances: Can a doctor survive on his own with a reduced patient load and no insurance to bill?

“It works, but physicians are notoriously risk adverse,” Furlow said. “I was willing to take the risk and just do it. I finally just pulled the trigger.”

Williams said most doctors are in debt from the expenses of medical school and the grind of residency. He said he tells interested doctors that going concierge is not a quick fix and it will take a while to break even, but the other benefits compensate.

“A happy doctor is a better doctor,” Williams said.

Beard started her medical career later in life after starting as a dietician. When she began her residency, while moonlighting as an ER doctor, she was told she would never get rich and would need antidepressants after a few months.

It was that gloomy outlook that spurred Beard into the new model.

“After getting beat up one night — not literally — I came home and said I can’t do this anymore,” Beard said. “I really wanted to be a family medicine doctor. This has been a blessing. I wake up every day and I’m happy.”



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