DMU alumnus leaves the “hamster wheel” of volume-based medicine for concierge practice

Once upon a time, Alan Morrison, D.O.’94, FACP, had a “thriving, busy, exciting, action-packed, solo, freestanding, independent internal medicine practice” with lots of patients but little time to spend with them. He wanted more face-to-face time for each appointment, but the only way to sustain the practice, he said, “was to keep seeing more and more patients every day. And that was not a sustainable model…from a general well-being standpoint, and being actually able to practice the kind of medicine that I want to practice.”

Dr. Morrison shared his experience in a recent edition of Medical Economics of transitioning to concierge medicine when he founded Morrison Membership Practice LLC in Washington, DC, in 2019. Concierge medicine is a membership-based model in which patients pay a set fee to have extended office visits, 24/7 communication via telemedicine and same-day or next-day appointments, among other amenities. He says “high-volume medicine” and concierge medicine are difficult to compare, because they’re “completely different,” but that the transition has let him get “off the hamster wheel.”

“There’s time to talk to folks,” he told Medical Economics. “My career satisfaction is off the charts. I’m much happier than I used to be. And I’m not only just happy with the time I have to spend with people here in the office. I can do the kind of job I want to do as a physician, which is really not just the nuts and bolts of medicine, it’s really the building the relationships of medicine and getting to know people. And you can’t do that in in five minutes, seven minutes or 10 minutes, when you’re trying to get to the next patient or thinking about the two or three other patients in other rooms.”

Dr. Morrison does caution that switching to a membership-based model like his is a “huge leap of faith going from what you’re familiar with, what you’ve built over the majority of your career and saying to yourself, ‘Okay, I’m going to risk it all.’” Some of his patients chose not to become members of his new practice, although some who initially rejected the model came back around to join. He also advises physicians who are considering concierge medicine to do their homework on whether to do so on their own or to enlist a partner. He chose the latter option by working with Castle Connolly Private Health Partners LLC, which assists physicians in converting to concierge medicine and then provides them with resources and support services for their practice.

In addition to being able to serve patients the way he wants to, Dr. Morrison told Medical Economics an unexpected benefit of switching to a concierge practice was that he had been using telemedicine before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

“We were ready, because the video conferencing was already in place,” he said. “People already had my personal cellphone number, people already had my direct email address, people already connected with us on our electronic health record system, so that they could message the office. We were set. And it worked.”

Dr. Morrison has consistently been named one of the “Top Doctors” in the Washington, DC, since 2008, according to Washingtonian Magazine. A graduate of the Johns Hopkins University/Sinai Hospital program in internal medicine, he is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and is board-certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine. Prior to his residency training, Morrison completed a rotating internship at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine; following his residency, he completed a clinical fellowship in adolescent and young adult medicine at Children’s National Health System in Washington, DC. He also served as assistant professor of medicine for almost five years at Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Dr. Morrison has spoken at both local and regional scientific conferences and has contributed to the medical literature.

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