NEWBURYPORT – A doctor who recognizes that some patients will pay extra for personalized care recently opened Your Choice Medical to provide “concierge” services.
Dr. Kay A Ficht has served at Anna Jaques Hospital and at the Leahy Clinic. Ficht said he started a special practice in Newburyport because he wants to spend more time with patients. Also, he wants to offer patients the opportunity to make same-day appointments and to permit them to call or Skype him when they have concerns.
“This is an individualized practice,” said Ficht, 53, whose office is at 21 Storey Ave. “There are no long waits, no answering machines, which means you get a real person when you call. You can get an appointment the same day you call. I have about 800 patients, many who came from my practice at the Anna Jaques. I have a high regard for that hospital but I wanted something different.”
In his current regimen, Ficht does not have to refer patients to Anna Jaques. If they want to go to Dana-Farber for cancer treatment or Massachusetts General Hospital for specialty care, he can send them there if that’s their choice.
The doctor says patients pay $100 per month above any costs that the care involves. He takes most insurance plans. And because Ficht said he is pursuing “individual” care, he can create sliding fees for those who have difficulty paying.
His program also includes free membership at a fitness club, access to a personal trainer and “telemedicine,” or the capability to confer with patients while using Skype. Patients also get his cell phone number.
“Some doctors don’t like a call while they are at the dinner table,” said Ficht, a German who has been in the Merrimack Valley for about two decades. “I don’t mind.”
Ficht indicated that many doctors in the Newburyport area have busy schedules and sometimes might spend less time with a patient than they would like.
“I want to talk to patients, I want to know them,” said Ficht, who employs about seven in his 1,000 square-foot office. “With fewer patients, I have more time. Some practices could have thousands of patients but I plan to limit my practice to about 900.
“I grew up in Germany, and most government health care is free. In this country, there is much more financial opportunity for doctors because of the private nature of the industry. I must find the balance between the number of patients and how much revenue is generated but I feel comfortable with this type of practice.”
Ficht declined to reveal the names of patients who might be contacted for comment because he felt it would violate privacy standards.
Delia O’Connor, former CEO of Anna Jaques Hospital, commented on Ficht’s business plan by saying, “Kay did an excellent job at our hospital, and I would recommend him. His new practice represents a choice, and it is being done in many suburban communities. Some patients want more attention, and if they have the resources, this can work for them.
“Let the market take its course,” she said. “A personalized practice won’t replace traditional medicine but it provides another choice.”
Dyke Hendrickson covers Newburyport. He can be reached at 978-961-3149, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.