MDVIP, a large concierge physician practice management company with over 700 participating physicians throughout the United States, has been sued for alleged antitrust violations by its much smaller rival, SignatureMD, which has 64 physician participants in the United States.
Both companies assist physicians convert their medical practices to the concierge medicine model, where patients are typically charged a yearly fee (MDVIP charges patients $1,500 per year) for which MDVIP promises “a personalized healthcare program” where “you become one of a few exclusive patients who receive the highest levels of personalized care to help transform your life into a healthier one,” in which the participating physicians “will take the extra time to get to know you, your lifestyle and your current health through consultations, comprehensive screenings and advanced testing.” Source
The idea behind concierge medicine is that participating patients pay a yearly fee and in exchange they receive more time and attention from their physicians because the participating physicians are able to limit their patient loads (typically between 300 and 600 patients, instead of thousands of patients) and therefore they can spend more time and provide more personalized care to their patients. SignatureMD advertises on its website, “affiliated physicians have the time to deliver the highest quality of preventive medicine to their SignatureMD members.” Source
Concierge medicine patients are still billed for most medical care and medical services provided by their physician’s office, including co-pays, and medical bills for care and services are still submitted to their health insurance for payment – the yearly fee is additional.
Concierge medicine programs are typically marketed to potential patients who are 55-years-old and older because these patients typically require a higher level of healthcare, they consume a greater level of healthcare services, and they are also more likely to be able to afford the yearly membership fee. While physicians may convert their practices to a concierge medicine practice on their own, concierge physician practice management companies can help streamline the conversion to a concierge medicine practice, providing necessary staff training and marketing to sign up patients to the new concierge practice.
Concierge physician practice management companies tend to focus on large communities where there is a large population of older and wealthier potential participants, including Nashville, Tennessee, where MDVP is the dominant concierge medical service provider with six participating physicians; SignatureMD is trying to break into the Nashville market. SignatureMD’s recently filed lawsuit against MDVIP in Tennessee alleges that MDVIP’s requirement that participating physicians sign a non-compete agreement that prevents them from signing up with a competitor (such as SignatureMD) for a period of two years violates both federal and state antitrust laws, potentially leading to monopolies that are anti-competitive.
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