Thursday, October 30, 2008

Dr. Milles & MDVIP

I've been using Dr. Gary Milles (infrequently, knock on wood) as my local doctor for nearly 15 years. He came well recommended and also was featured in magazines as one of the county's best. He has proven to be that -- a kind, caring and reassuring doctor. Clearly, though, he's also been wrestling with the business side of running a practice, first with partners and lately on his own.

I recently learned he's changing his practice to join the MDVIP model. MDVIP is a national network (and marketing organization) for physicians focusing on preventive and personalized healthcare. Under this model, Dr. Milles will charge an annual $1,500 "subscription" that gives guaranteed access to a smaller roster of patients. In fact, he's cutting his patient roster from around 1,800 down closer to 500. For those 500 or so, Dr. Milles will offer expanded care and services. For the 1,300 that opt out, Dr. Milles says he will provide referrals to other reliable local doctors. We'll see.

I expect I'll be one of the 1,300. I don't begrudge Dr. Milles an opportunity to make a healthier income or run a less stressful practice. He's a very good doctor and has earned the right to charge a premium. He blames the insurance companies for forcing an ever-increasing workload on general practitioners everywhere. Maybe he's right. I'm sure from his perspective he sees little choice.

I think it's a shame our nation's healthcare industry is forcing this choice upon doctors and patients. It's symptomatic of a broken system. Both the presidential candidates talk about addressing our nation's healthcare problems, but I doubt it's something that can be fixed quickly or easily. I hold out hope that one will be better at it than the other, but I also hope I don't get sick in the meantime.

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