Margaret and Richard Hodel stand in the backyard of their home in Durham, NC.
Margaret Hodel and her husband Richard had always received excellent care from their primary care doctor, Kathleen A. Waite, MD. So when Dr. Waite told them she was moving from a large Duke Health practice to Duke Signature Care -- a concierge medical service -- they decided to follow her. The couple did not want to switch doctors and was attracted by the perks of Signature Care, for example, longer appointments and 24/7 access to their doctor.
Benefits of Concierge Medicine
Like all concierge medical practices, Duke Signature Care is fee-based, but the Hodels, both former mathematics faculty at Duke University, feel the annual cost is well worth it. Although both she and Dr. Hodel are healthy, the 80-year-old admits, “You do have more issues as you age.” At Signature Care, they enjoy same-day appointments, ample time to discuss their health concerns, and access to services like an in-house cardiologist. “Another wonderful thing is that if your doctor has any referrals -- for a mammogram, physical therapy, orthopaedic care -- the staff make the appointments for you while you’re there. You feel so well taken care of and very secure,” she said.
Not Just for Older Adults
Concierge medicine is not just for older people. The doctors at Duke Signature Care see people in their 20s and 30s who appreciate the convenience of same-day, comprehensive appointments and around-the-clock access to their doctor. The focus on prevention and consistent care are also appealing. Dr. Waite explained, “A lot of younger people who come in value continuity. They don’t want to see different doctors for the same issue. They want to know if they get sick -- or even if they don’t -- they have a home."
More Time for Patients
Because there is a limit on the number of patients a doctor can see, Dr. Waite and her colleagues can dedicate more time to each one. “I like to spend a lot of time looking at prevention, a patient’s health goals, and why they came to see me,” she said. With fewer patients, she can also provide services not possible in a busier practice, for example, visiting a patient in the hospital after knee surgery.
A Personal Relationship
Margaret Hodel describes visits to Duke Signature Care as “very personal,” from the waiting room, to the front desk staff, to the nurses and doctors. “You don’t have to wait for an appointment, and you see somebody who knows you really well and cares about you. That makes a big difference. It's like going to see a friend.”