Rapid Response


When our health wavers, seeking specialist care as soon as possible is key. L-J Andrew explores the world of medical concierge services with Annabelle Neame, Director of Business Development at HCA Healthcare UK

Concierge healthcare is by no means a brand-new concept, but rather one that has existed within private healthcare for at least two decades in one form or another.

The concierge medicine model, as it is now commonly known, originated in 1996 in Seattle with Dr. Howard Maron and Dr. Scott Hall. At the time, Maron was a physician for the Seattle Super Sonics basketball team, when he had the idea to provide luxury primary care services tohis client athletes. He introduced a dramatically reduced patient load and found the advantages included very quick access to a personal physician as and when needed, and the ability to see doctors in any one of ten major cities.

His approach rapidly became known, and many physicians sought to emulate the model and competitors quickly emerged.

Common services include 24/7 phone access, same-day appointments, short waiting times, preventative health and wellness services, and nursing practitioner support when seeing specialists and in the emergency room. By 2000, there were a handful of concierge medicine providers. By 2010, there were over 5,000 physicians in over 500 providers using the model.

From 2012-2018, the Physicians Foundation conducted a biennial survey of physicians and found that between4.5-8.8% plan to switch to a concierge model. In 2012, there were 4,400 private physicians – a 25% increase from 2011.

Over the last couple of years, the sector has undergone a rapid evolution. Due to the efficiency and speed of access, the concierge model of care often attracts time-poor professionals, frequent business travellers and those with multiple bases both in the UK and around the world.

Continuity of care has also been propelled to the forefront of public consciousness over the past eighteen months -during a time where we’re more aware of our health than ever before. Considering the physical and psychological toll that comes with the majority of health issues, continuity of care and the ease of use that comes with concierge healthcare, are key selling points for patients.

From this, we have seen concierge healthcare enter its next phase of development, with services including the Rapid Response Referral being introduced by The HCAUK Concierge Centre - the only Clinical Nurse Specialist healthcare concierge in the UK to be registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Rapid Response Referral offers premier, bespoke medical pathways for patients with complex and often time critical care needs via a base in Marylebone, London. Typically, the patients seen through Rapid Response Referral, are complex acute admissions, and the HCA is able to manage these patients effectively due to their unique position and expertise as a hospital group.

Operating 24 hours, 365 days a year, the team responds to all requests within two hours, ensuring patients benefit from a rapid response referral for their individual health concerns. The service has also partnered with Charles Taylor Assistance (formerly Cega) to arrange international travel for patients. This is the first partnership in the UK between a direct healthcare provider and a medivac aviation transfer specialist, which means that the service can arrange global transfers which are not reliant on private medical insurance.

Through Rapid Response Referral, HCA has already repatriated many patients following trauma or illness overseas; for example, working with a London-based embassy in the aftermath of an earthquake in Eastern Europe to medivac a critically ill pregnant patient to London, in order to receive specialist care and give birth safely.

By providing a patient-focused, seamless service, the centre removes the stressful and time-consuming process offering and arranging healthcare. Clinical Nurse Advisers personally support each patient through their medical journey, providing swift access to consultants and treatments in HCA Healthcare UK’s central London hospitals –including London Bridge Hospital, The Princess Grace Hospital, The Harley Street Clinic, The Lister Hospital, The Portland Hospital and The Wellington Hospital.

With HCA, UK’s resources alongside its pool of consultants, clients can access the best possible care, quickly – covering everything from ICU transfers to neurorehabilitation through to life saving complex surgery.

HCA sees first-hand the value of a rapid response referral service during times when patients desperately need reassurance, clarity and advice about their own health and that of their family. Patients are far more empowered in their health choices than they would be through standard avenues of care - and so concierge healthcare has become a highly valued, integral part of their lifestyle.

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