Family medicine with a new twist, is how Dr. Zachary Bechtol is describing his new "First Class" venture.
Bechtol, who has practiced family medicine in Grove since 1998, has opened the first concierge medical service to serve the Grand Lake area.
The practice, which is membership based, is designed to provide individuals with more time to see and talk with a personal physician, as well as receiving "high quality care" given "to a smaller pool of exclusive members."
Bechtol began exploring this new venture at the request of patients who moved from the Oklahoma City metro-area.
Members of the service, which comes during this first year at a $1,000 fee, provides individuals with access to Bechtol using the "red phone."
That service also comes with direct 24/7 access by phone, email and text.
"We're still defining [the practice]," Bechtol said. "We don't know what the market will expect in terms of service and access."
Bechtol said he will still see his current patients in his private practice from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and still make hospital visits as needed.
But he likens this new serves to riding first class in an airplane.
"When you are flying to New York, you can choose to ride in coach and have a smaller seat with pretzels, or you can pick first class and get a bigger seat and other benefits," Bechtol said. "You still get to New York, but [with first class] it has conveniences and comfort."
Concierge medicine does not the need for insurance, but it does provide members with convenience and service
With the fee, which is set to start at least a third of what a similar practice charges in the metro areas, Bechtol said members not only get direct access to him via the "red phone," they also receive a yearly comprehensive wellness visit designed to meet their healthcare needs.
Another factor in the practice, he said, is his ability to have "same day" appointments for his First Class patients.
One key component, he said, is the ability for members to have Bechtol make "house calls" or for many on Grand Lake, "dock calls."
For example, if a member has a grandchild visiting who becomes sick, or injured, Bechtol will come to the home to see the child - rather than making the family member take the time for an emergency room visit.
Ultimately, Bechtol said, this new practice is designed with two words in mind - convenience and access.
"For people who want, and are willing to pay, time is money," Bechtol said. "They aren't interested in a health care system that includes a two to three hour wait for something simple."
Bechtol said in effect, patients are paying to become part of a smaller practice, in order to receive specialized care and attention.
Bechtol believes this may be the new trend in medicine, as the market changes to meet health care demands.
He also sees this practice as a way to get back to serving as a doctor, where quality service over the number of calls/visits per day matters.
"This is personalized service, [for people] who invest in their health and wellness," Bechtol said.
In some ways, Bechtol said, being a member of First Class is like adding a doctor as a member of the family - someone a patient can access at all times.
Since he launched the program in January, Bechtol has added at least 10 patients to the First Class service. He plans to host a series of "meet and greets" this summer, to explain what the practice can, and does offer patients.
For now, the pilot program costs $1,000 per year. Bechtol expects the program will evolve, as additional patients come on board.
For more information concerning Bechtol's new venture, persons interested may call 918-786-4664.