“I have been a patient before. I can understand from that perspective that if your experience is slow in getting a response, and you’re not a medical professional, that can create a lot of anxiety and mental anguish.” Dr. Boker and his partner, Dr. Wyatt Horsley, aim to eliminate as much of that distress as they can through their work with the Intermountain Healthcare Concierge Health program.
What, exactly, is concierge medicine? Dr. Bokor describes concierge medicine as “creating a more personalized healthcare experience with direct access to your primary care provider. In that vein,” he explains, “we have set out to create a very patient-centric and personalized experience for each of our patients.” Patients in the program pay a yearly membership and, in exchange, receive access to services such as: round-the-clock access to their doctor via cell phone communication, annual preventative exams and testing, assistance navigating what is becoming an increasingly complex medical and hospital system, and an overall higher level of care than what might be available in a traditional primary care practice. By relying on the membership model as opposed to a traditional insurance-based practice, Concierge Health is able to limit the number of patients in the program; meaning that each patient has greater access to their doctor and more of their doctor’s time available to them. And according to Dr. Bokor, that time is what makes all the difference.
“We were able to lower one of our patient’s drug costs by $450 per month,” he says, “because we were actually able to look at each medication…and actually have time to one-by-one go through those medicines with their insurance plan. We were able to overcome those barriers and get their medicine costs down to the point where they’re saving $5400 per year.”
“And I think the difference between us and regular clinics is time.” He continues, “They don’t have that kind of time. As a physician that operated in the insurance-based space for many years, I didn’t have that kind of time. My patients didn’t have that kind of access to me; to be able to set aside time just to review medications and go through them one-by-one to see if we can lower costs.”
And while saving money is a benefit Dr. Bokor can frequently offer his patients, he also often saves his patients time, and sometimes their lives. His clinic’s experience with the healthcare system, and the extra time they are able to devote to individual patients, allows Dr. Boker and his team to aid patients who need specialized care to receive that care sooner. Utah’s high rate of growth means that many patients in the state find themselves waiting many months or sometimes up to a year for access to specialist care. “With our patients,” Dr. Bokor explains, “we’re curating those visits and they’re getting in more smoothly and more quickly.” One patient who required a surgery was able to access that care weeks earlier than they would have otherwise had they not had the assistance of Concierge Health. “So again, we’re getting people back to that previous state of health faster than they would have otherwise been able to achieve that.”
Dr. Bokor tells the story of another patient — a patient who had spent a decade living with an undiagnosed condition. After ten years with no answers, Dr. Bokor and his team were able to diagnose the illness on their very first visit with the patient. “Had we not seen that patient,” Dr. Bokor shared, “I fear that [they] would have succumbed to their illness within the year. So just by catching things and being active and spending time with our patients we are saving lives. There’s no doubt in my mind.”
When asked what kinds of patients might benefit the most from a program like Concierge Health, Dr. Bokor insists that nearly anybody might receive a benefit from the program. “If somebody wanted more convenience where they have more direct access and their doctor’s cell phone number,” he says, “that patient benefits from concierge medicine. The patient that has a high-deductible plan would save money — probably more often than not — by using concierge medicine…so any of those patients that want prompt healthcare delivery and that’s important to them. Anybody that feels their healthcare is a priority, they also benefit from concierge medicine because they’re actually having a personalized relationship with their doctor — a personalized dialog with that provider.”
Dr. Bokor’s goal, and the goal of IHC Concierge Health, is to “serve individuals that also take an active role in serving their families and communities.” From business leaders and employers, to single parents. “We take care of anybody at any socio-economic level that wants to put their best foot forward in their health.” Dr. Bokor describes the program as “an investment in your health…most people look at their cell phone charge as a necessary charge,” he points out. “That goes on their bill every month, and they just pay it. How much is your healthcare worth to you? And I ask that rhetorically to all patients that are considering this. How much per month or per year is your health worth to you? And how much is it worth to you to have a doctor in your corner when you need them the most? We’re there for those people.”
How successful does Dr. Bokor think concierge health has been so far?
“I think we’ve been very successful. I think the biggest evidence of that is that we’re creating more and more new relationships. That’s the best sign of growth in this day and age; creating more positivity and more relationships that are beneficial to all participants.”
Dr. Bokor describes his practice as a two-way street, where he can be there for his patients, and his patients can count on him and his clinic. And that, he says, “is a really formidable goal in medicine, with all the distrust and changes to our healthcare system. We have not only set out to do that, but we’re growing and achieving that goal.”