L.A. startup looks to extend concierge medicine to surgery

A Los Angeles company is looking to expand the field of concierge medicine to include on-demand surgical care.

Prime Surgeons has launched a beta test of its concierge surgery business in L.A. County.

The group of 16 surgeons will initially specialize in orthopedic sports, spine surgery, gynecology and robotics procedures.

Concierge medicine is a small but growing concept in which doctors, typically in primary care, focus on a smaller, wealthier clientele who pay a membership fee to get on-demand access to their physicians.

Through Prime Surgeons’ website or app, patients who already have had surgery or want a second opinion on whether to have surgery can reach out directly to set up a consultation with one of the network’s surgeons, said company Chief Executive Gil Tepper.

“We want the public to be able to choose the surgeon’s surgeon,” he said.

If they’re approved for surgery, patients can then choose an appointment that fits their schedule and customize payment packages that include varying levels of access to their surgeon and potentially postoperative care.

The basic membership level, which allows patients to schedule appointments within two weeks, is $99 a year. Concierge level membership, which includes the highest access to physicians and appointment scheduling within 24 to 48 hours, is $2,500 a quarter.

Trade publication Concierge Medicine Today estimated that there are as many as 12,000 concierge doctors in the U.S., still just a small percentage of total physicians.

But a concierge surgery model poses different challenges than primary care medicine, said Nadereh Pourat, director of research at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. For one, surgery is often a one-time event.

“Surgery is not the same as primary care, where you know you’re going to need it,” she said.

Prime Surgeons says it’s looking to capitalize on the projected growth of the orthopedic surgery market, reflecting an aging population.

samantha.masunaga@latimes.com

For more business news, follow me @smasunaga

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