It’s a familiar picture these days: people are struggling to make appointments with primary care physicians and specialists, “with doctors saying demand is higher than ever at a time when an increasing number of providers are leaving the field.” The problem is “leaving patients sicker and in need of more intensive care down the road,” as Jessica Bartlett reported in the Boston Globe in February. If patients do get to see their doctor, time is usually of the essence. The average primary care exam lasts 18 minutes.
If your disease is an addiction, it gets worse. More than 46 million Americans (16.5 percent of the population) have a substance use disorder (SUD), according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. “In 2021, just 6 percent of those patients received the treatment they needed. And one in five people wrestling with addiction says they do not know where to turn for help. In many places, there’s no one nearby with specialized expertise.” For those who do get care, the treatment is often ineffective and requires multiple treatment episodes. Addiction is a complex condition requiring individualized attention and therapy because no two cases are the same. Tailoring treatment, education, and coordinated care services around the needs of each client is crucial because everyone affected by behavioral health disorders experiences different symptoms, side effects, and situations. Oftentimes, positive treatment outcomes result from a coordinated array of intensive, personalized therapies, ancillary supportive services, strong therapeutic relationships, and lifestyle changes — approaches requiring significant time and resources.
Concierge medicine, practiced by an estimated ten percent of American general practice physicians, offers more personalized care and direct access than traditional medical practices. Concierge doctors, also called direct-pay physicians, form a private practice and limit the number of patients they treat—usually a much smaller than physicians working in traditional care systems. Same-day appointments and direct email and phone contact with concierge doctors mean speedier access and more frequent interactions with caregivers. Because concierge doctors see fewer patients and spend more time with them, they gain a better understanding of a patient’s personal and family medical history and proactively manage patient and family health, including more and more diverse testing and assessment, advice, and interventions than are typically provided by traditional primary care doctors.
The concierge medicine approach offers significant advantages when applied to behavioral healthcare. At New Paradigm Recovery, which uses a concierge care model, clinicians, case managers, and psychiatric providers are free to spend more time with clients, schedule treatment around their needs, access specialized resources and wellness services, and address more areas of client health and well-being. Concierge approaches also allow clinicians to spend more time working with client families, increase individual psychotherapy to address emergent needs, and collaborate with other client service providers to provide a more comprehensive and personalized quality of service and a more effective treatment experience.
New Paradigm Clinical Director, Cindy Sample, attributes New Paradigm Recovery’s concierge model with improved client experiences and outcomes. “Having practiced psychoanalysis and psychotherapy for more than twenty-five years, I can confidently say that making progress on the deep issues that often mean the most to clients can take time. Our approach allows our team to spend more time with clients when they need it. The ability to craft treatment plans around the needs of clients, rather than doing the best we can within artificial boundaries that sometimes limit care, means we can be ready to help in the ways clients need us when they are ready to engage, and that can make a profound difference when treating dual-diagnosis conditions.”
At New Paradigm, the concierge approach allows it to expand client services beyond an identified treatment episode to do more good before and after treatment. The program’s case management function, which can include a broad range of services for clients and families at any stage of the recovery journey, can provide pivotal supports that help people initiate treatment, address various extra-therapeutic issues, and help clients and families maintain recovery. In addition, clients can transition from the program’s Intensive Outpatient Program to its Outpatient level of care while maintaining their treatment team and primary therapists. This advantage builds on an existing rapport and reduces time to progress.
“It is hard to overstate the benefits when clients can continue seeing their primary therapist after completing our IOP program,” says Joshua Cagney, New Paradigm Recovery Chief Operating Officer. “Helping people achieve the homeostasis that allows them to stop relying on substances and sustaining that state requires more than treatment alone — it takes ongoing support. Our ability to remain connected to clients and to work with them and their families and their other support professionals makes a crucial difference in their lives and builds the bridges that help recovery last. Our model is essential to let us do the work required to keep people on the path to long-term recovery, address family issues, navigate legal and career issues, and build the connections needed to attain long-term stability.”
Concierge medical approaches offer many clinical advantages but require higher out-of-pocket costs than most in-network treatment options, a challenge of which New Paradigm Recovery leadership team members are acutely aware. “We set out to deliver the care quality and quantity we deem effective for each client. We know this approach limits access to our services today, but we continue to seek ways to increase accessibility,” says Cagney. “In today’s healthcare marketplace, our model ensures that our treatment is guided by real-time clinical decision-making rather than what a particular insurance plan is willing to cover. By eliminating arbitrary parameters that can limit the ways we can help clients, we believe that we can do the hard work needed to address complex conditions effectively.”