Health care quarterly:
Medical practice aims to attract wealthy Las Vegans
Fri, Nov 20, 2009 (3 a.m.)
A physician group with roots in Beverly Hills, Calif., is hoping its posh and personalized care will capture some of the high-end patient market in Las Vegas.
K/E Centers for Advanced Medicine, a new medical practice that will house specialists and primary-care physicians in one building, expects its target patients will be willing to pay more in exchange for longer time with the doctor and a one-stop, spalike experience, said Jonathan Doctor, president and chief operating officer.
For instance, instead of patients using the unflattering and ever-so-revealing paper “gowns,” they will instead don cloth robes and slippers. And if breakfast was skipped because of a blood test? The patient can, literally, break his fast and eat breakfast with the doctor — during the appointment.
Doctor said the center’s model is not based on concierge care, in which patients pay a high upfront fee to a general practitioner, who in turn, sees fewer patients and spends more time with the ones she has.
In Doctor’s plan, the receptionist will greet patients by name before the concierge service escorts them to their appointment area. The doctor will be acquainted with the patient’s medical history, and the patient will be able to develop a relationship with the doctor. If there is a health problem that goes beyond the scope of a general practitioner, she would meet and discuss the disease or injury with a specialist, who is on staff at the center.
The practice doesn’t have to require upfront fees to be considered a concierge model, and the American Medical Association considers practices that privately contract with patients for extra medical care and extra services — such as those cloth robes and slippers — as following such a model.
Doctor said he doesn’t consider the practice to be concierge because it doesn’t charge any extra fees, just for the medical services rendered.
For K/E Centers to provide the level of medical care and offer an environment that is more a Four Seasons than a clinic, Doctor said it will not be on any private health insurance plan. Patients will generally be paying higher out-of-network prices. Although the centers will seek payment from the insurance company for services rendered, it will be up to the patient to pay the difference, he said.
“There is a premium to get the care we’re talking about,” he said. “This type of approach won’t be for every single person out there.”
Doctors will be paid a salary like they are at the Cleveland Clinic and the Mayo Clinic, models of efficient medical care. Patients can expect to pay on average 20 percent to 30 percent above what insurance reimburses for the care, although some might be paying more than that, he said.
Doctor said that he doesn’t know if this model will work and that he is leaving the door open to explore other revenue strategies.
The business model needs out-of-network prices, Doctor said. “We need to pay physicians in the manner they are accustomed.”
The doctors are being recruited from hospitals such as Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
The idea behind the medical practice taking a shot in Las Vegas is based on high-end patients traveling to Los Angeles and requesting the same level of care in Southern Nevada.
“Las Vegas is a showcase,” Doctor said. “What better place to have a groundbreaking paradigm model in a community known for showing things off?”
The company will be based across the street from St. Rose Dominican Hospitals — San Martin Campus, an easy drive for the center’s target patients: those in the higher income areas of Summerlin and Green Valley, Doctor said.
The company is leasing about 60,000 square feet of medical office space at 8205 W. Warm Springs Road, and is renovating the space to fit K/E Centers needs.
K/E Centers is expected to create 400 jobs within three years’ time. By then, the practice is expected to boast more than 40 primary-care physicians and specialists and have 20,000 patients, Doctor said.
“With a population of 2 million (in Las Vegas), we’re not talking about a huge population we have to penetrate to be successful,” he said.
A few areas are out-of-bounds for the practice. It won’t deliver babies, provide treatment for cancer or have inpatient care. Any surgeries or treatments will be on an outpatient basis, he said.
K/E Centers is expected to open next fall.
The founders are Dr. Marc Edelstein, a Beverly Hills-based gastroenterologist, and Dr. Robert Koblin, an attending cardiologist at Cedars-Sinai.
Expansion to other markets, such as the San Francisco Bay Area and Newport in Orange County, Calif., is being considered, although no decision has been made, Doctor said.
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