Hybrid Concierge Care and Airline Travel

March 17, 2016
Wayne Lipton

Much like the airlines, hybrid concierge care patients value an enhanced service experience and are willing to pay for it.

As anyone who's ever traveled knows, the airline industry has many ways of spreading the cost of their service to their passengers. They sell tickets at varying prices based on occupancy and timing, they sell amenities to passengers like more space, priority boarding, larger, more comfortable seats, baggage charges, food, drinks, movies, and Wi-Fi. In areas where there is little competition, they charge premium prices for flights.

Years ago, when Jet Blue arrived on the scene, the industry tested an alternative model where only one level of service was offered to one level of passenger. It was an interesting approach, but it didn't last. The airline industry realized it was better to charge premiums to some passengers rather than increase the costs to all the passengers. Eventually, Jet Blue added premium space and select amenities just like the other airlines, who always had a "first-class" option.

While the industries are different, there are parallels between the airline industry and hybrid concierge healthcare, where physicians offer their patients the option of an enhanced practice experience. Both sell desirable amenities and services as a means of controlling overall delivery cost, while maintaining quality for all.

If we are likening hybrid concierge care to first-class travel, does that mean that hybrid concierge care is a tiered healthcare system? It's an important question.

Realistically, haven't there always been inherent differences in healthcare?

As anyone who's ever shopped for an insurance plan knows, the insurance you have creates different opportunities for how you manage your health. Based on your insurance alone, you can be limited by which doctors you can see and under what circumstances you can see a specialist. There are also varying limits on the medications insurance plans will cover.

And think about availability. In some regions of the U.S., you can select from a number of different hospitals. But in other areas, you can be strictly limited. And within those hospitals, patients are usually able to select private rooms versus semi-private rooms, and sometimes even luxury floors.

There are also multiple levels of care within a healthcare system. When you go to a primary-care office and you see the nurse or the PA, they are often less familiar with the more rare patient problems than the physicians in the office. When you look at different providers and different facilities, some are better than others in a variety of ways. And, all doctors have their own style, even though they've all met certain training standards.

Air travel has standards too. They include safety, comfort, convenience, and relative affordability.  As a coach passenger, you are traveling on the same plane with the same same pilots going to the same destination in the same time-frame as a first-class passenger.

So then why are people willing to pay three or four times the basic amount to fly in first class versus coach? Because they find value in the level of service they receive. When you fly on an airline in first class, you are attended to in a way that satisfies you more than flying coach.

The same is true in physician care. Patients value an enhanced service experience with their trusted physician and are willing to pay for it. They are more satisfied when they are given more time and connectivity with their doctor, along with greater convenience and comfort.

And that's what makes hybrid concierge care so unique. It offers patients choices. As a traditional patient, you can be confident that the same experienced, trusted physician is caring for you. But if you value more time, convenience, and comfort, you can choose to pay more for a heightened practice experience.