Physicians who have grown fed up with managed care to the point where they've set up "boutique" practices have gotten a lot of publicity in recent years — but not much guidance. Until now.
The American Medical Association for the first time established new ethical guidelines for doctors who opt to engage in boutique, or concierge, care.
"Retainer practices provide an opportunity for patients to develop a more personalized relationship with their physician," says Leonard Morse, MD, the chairman of the AMA's council on ethical and judicial affairs. "But physicians should also make sure that all patients, including those who do not pay retainer fees, continue to receive the same quality of care."
Setting up a boutique practice doesn't let physicians off the hook for providing urgent care, if it is needed. In addition, physicians are obligated to continue caring for HMO patients if those patients are unable to find other network doctors in the area. There should be no fee for transferring the medical records of patients who do find other doctors, the AMA says.
Here are some of the other AMA guidelines, which the organization adopted in June: