Physicians find concierge medicine works for many
By Jessica Laskey
It’s 7 p.m., most doctors’ offices are closed, and you have a medical concern. You call your physician and who picks up? Your physician. In a brief conversation, he tells you what to do. You hang up feeling informed and reassured.
This doctoring dream describes the family medicine practice of Dr. Eric Tepper and Dr. Reed Vuong at 50th and J streets. The practice operates under a concierge medicine model, where patients have direct access to their doctor via phone, text and email, and can often be seen the same day. A doctor’s appointment when you need it.
“When you’re seeing 30 people a day (in a traditional practice), you can’t give them the attention they want or need. You’re just trying to keep your head above water,” says Tepper, a Placerville-area native. “When you scale back to 10 to 15 people a day, you can know who everybody is, give them the attention they need and take care of everything on their list.”
Tepper attended medical school in Philadelphia and returned to Sacramento for residency at Methodist Hospital and Mercy Family Health Center.
About eight years ago, Tepper was burning out on the pace and demands of his traditional practice of 3,800 patients. When he learned about concierge medicine and realized he could still treat people but also achieve work-life balance, he converted his practice and never looked back.
San Diego native Vuong entered private practice after earning his osteopathic medicine degree in Iowa. He completed residency at Mercy alongside Tepper. When he realized his private practice was running him ragged, he asked Tepper what he was doing and received a glowing report on concierge medicine. Vuong joined Tepper’s practice last November.
“With a 45-minute appointment, I can do so much more with a patient,” Vuong says. “Before, I had 15 minutes to see a patient, which meant I had to chart after hours and basically run from room to room and throw Band-Aids at people. I like that now I get to take time to get to the root cause of a problem and treat it, not just cover it with a Band-Aid.”
Though he admits the idea of patients being able to contact him around the clock was daunting, he soon realized, “As it turns out, if you can take care of a problem in a timely manner during the day, almost nobody abuses the system and calls you at 2 a.m.”
“And if someone does call at 2 a.m. and says they think they’re having a stroke or a heart attack, we’re able to tell them to hang up and call 911,” Tepper says. “You’re not getting a call back in a few hours, you’re getting me right then. New patients are always surprised when I pick up the phone.”
While it may sound too good to be true, concierge medicine is still covered by most insurance. The practice requires patients to be insured to help defray costs. “You don’t get car insurance to change your oil, you get it to cover the big things,” Tepper says.
Patients pay an annual fee determined by age that covers, as Tepper says, “everything insurance doesn’t want to pay for. Before, it felt like I was working for the insurance companies. That’s not who should be in charge of your health care. If insurance doesn’t cover it, the fee does so we can take care of things soup to nuts.”
For information, visit ericteppermd.com or call (916) 455-1155. The address is 5030 J St., Suite 201.
Jessica Laskey can be reached at email@example.com. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram@insidesacramento.