Real health care reform

by Russ Hill on April 15, 2010

My brother was in Phoenix last weekend visiting us from his home in Texas.

We got into a conversation about health care.  Sound familiar?  Who hasn’t been talking about health care with family, friends, or coworkers lately?

waiting roomSo, my brother brings up that his doctor has recently dramatically changed his practice.  Maybe you’ve heard of this trend. I hadn’t.  It turns out the doctor has notified all his patients that he’s going to dramatically limit the number of people he cares for and start charging them a MEMBERSHIP fee!

What?

It turns out it’s called Concierge Medicine.

It seems a few doctors have changed to this system in the last few years.  But, with Obamacare passing, it sounds like many could be headed this way.

If you haven’t heard of it, here’s how it works.  Your doctor decides that instead of seeing an average of 2,300 patients a year (can you believe that’s the average patient load for doctors!) he will instead reduce that number to 400 or 500.  Why would he do that?  To make just as much money, spend less time at work, rely less on government run health care funds, and have much happier patients.

Here’s the catch: in order to be one of the reduced number of patients your doctor will see, you must now PAY HIM an annual fee.  Yes, that’s right, you have a membership fee.  How much?  You can expect somewhere between $1,000 and $5,000 per year.

Those of you not familiar with this Concierge Medicine model are probably thinking: that’s crazy!  Hang on a minute.

Here’s what you get for paying that membership fee: the doctor’s cell phone number, the doctor’s personal email address, a promise that you will never have another long wait at the doctor’s office EVER again, guaranteed same day or next day appointments, full 30 minute appointment blocks where the doctor actually has that much time to spend with each patient if need be, house or office calls in some instances, and quick responses to your phone calls or emails.

Wow!

Now, doesn’t that sound like something we’d all love!  After spending more than six hours waiting for a doctor to see my three year old son the other day, I’m wondering where I can sign up!

This model won’t work for everyone.  I see a doctor (for myself) every few years.  Under this model I’d be paying $3,000-$10,000 per visit.  But, my wife would probably get out the debit card and pay for this right now for our kids.  Imagine pediatricians on this model!  You don’t think moms would line up to avoid ALL the hassles they experience trying to get the little ones into a doctor!

I love innovation.  And, this is a classic example of it.  Someone was thinking differently and came up with this model.  They created scarcity, which always increases value, by limiting the number of patients.  And, they thought of health care from the standpoint of a consumer and came up with solutions.  Imagine that!

With Obamacare set to send 34 million people into our health care system doctors are anxious.  They already are overloaded with patients and stuck in a government funded system that bases a big chunk of their pay on the volume of patients they can see in a day.  They don’t like spending 4 seconds with each patient and having all those angry people out in the waiting room.  Obamacare will make this situation worse.  Much worse.  There’s nothing in the horrific plan passed by Democrats that entices tens of thousands of more people to get into healthcare in order to meet the needs of all these millions of Americans who now will have health care.

So, innovative doctors are taking a stand, doing something different, and launching into Concierge Medicine.  All of OUR businesses need bold, innovative solutions in order to make us, or keep us, growing.  We could learn a thing or two from these doctors.

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