In the era of specialization, the Family Physician is often under-appreciated and misunderstood. As our aging population grows, and the number of primary care physicians dwindles, the systemic deficiencies of high-volume medicine become more evident. Fortunately, the health-care decision maker for the family does have options outside the traditional managed-care-driven practice model. Membership medical practices, a term coined by Tampa physician Dr. Michael O’Neal, is a more personalized, low volume alternative.
The most common dialect of membership-style care is the concierge medical practice. The concierge physician manages the care of only 400-600 patients, compared to the thousands of patients managed within a traditional primary care setting. This more manageable environment allows the physician to provide more time and energy to fewer patients. Patients are offered services and amenities that are difficult to provide in volume driven practices, such as home visits, direct physician contact, same day appointments, in-home blood draws, and much more. The patient pays an annual membership, or retainer, fee that makes the physician less dependent upon managed care reimbursement. Many concierge practices, still accept commercial insurances and/or Medicare.
The concept of concierge medicine has actually been around for nearly two decades. Dr. O’Neal’s practice, CooperativeMed, put Tampa on the concierge map in the early 2000’s, having established the first such practice every developed ‘from scratch’ in the United States. Since then, there are now more than 5,000 concierge physicians in the country, and several others have followed O’Neal’s lead in the Tampa Bay area.
Most concierge physicians are specialty trained in Internal Medicine; however, O’Neal believes that the discipline of Family Medicine is better suited for this type of practice. “The broad-spectrum training and diversity of skills of the FP specialist is an ideal complement to the medical practice offering care to the entire family.”
In addition to providing all aspects of family care, from pediatrics to geriatrics, physician advocacy and preventative care are prioritized. Further, continuity of care is a cornerstone of concierge care, unlike the Executive Physical concept of mass data collection at one structured visit.
Traditional values and collaborative physician-patient relationships blended with modern technology is what you and your family can expect from a concierge medical practice. As our health care system evolves, or devolves, concierge medical practices provide the health care consumer with an opportunity to invest in their family’s health.
Dr. O’Neal received his undergraduate degree from the University of South Florida (USF), and medical school at the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences. Residency training was completed at the USF College of Medicine, where he was elected the Chief Resident. Dr. O’Neal has published more than 20 articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals. He has received numerous awards for his scholarly achievements, research, and contributions to medical student education. He was 1 of only 15 national physicians to receive the prestigious American Medical Association (AMA) Young Physician Leadership Award. This award is given to the few physicians under the age of 40 who are considered the future leaders of medicine in the United States.
Dr. O’Neal is considered one of the most innovative, entrepreneurial primary care physicians of the past decade. He introduced the concept of concierge medicine to the Tampa Bay area in 2002, and is credited with developing the first concierge medical practice in the U.S. ever created from scratch (non-transitioned). The medical journal, Family Practice Management, selected his concept of Membership Medicine as a ‘Top 10 Idea in Medicine’ in 2004. In 2010, he developed a supplement line that was NSF Certified for Sport, as well as a novel custom supplement program. The online publication Concierge Medicine Today selected Dr. O’Neal as one of 16 concierge physicians in the United States and Canada to watch in 2012. Dr. O’Neal was chosen as the Tampa Bay Business Journal’s Health Care Hero (physician category) for 2013.
Dr. O’Neal served as a primary care physician for a professional baseball organization for six years. He is a Diplomate of the American Board of Family Physicians (Board Certified). Dr. O’Neal is an authority on Concierge Medicine, and is passionate about promoting natural alternatives for enhancing athletic performance, nutrition, pharmaco-genetics, and preventative care. He is an active member of the American Medical Association and the American College of Sport Medicine. He has attracted a diverse clientele, including several A-list celebrities and elite athletes, including players from MLB, NFL, NHL, NBA, PGA, and former Olympians.
He is media savvy and has given numerous interviews for print, radio, and all major television networks speaking as an expert on topics ranging from preventative care, sports injuries, and the health care system.