Friday, August 29, 2014

More On Direct Patient Care

Plain directness can go a long way.

Anthony K. Tjam. “Have the Courage to be Direct,” HBR Blog Network, 2012

Healthcare providers are discovering strategic opportunities with large employers that are self-insured, but they need to be willing to partner more directly with payers and employers.

Phillip Betbeze, "Targeting Self-Insured Populations, " Health Leaders Media, August 27. 2014

I keep running across examples of “direct” patient care.

• Formation of organizations touting “direct primary care.”

• Self-funded corporations contracting “directly” for concierge and ambulatory surgical services.

• Independent “direct pay” providers bypassing 3rd party government and health plan middlemen.

• Physicians striking out and signing “direct contracts” with local businesses to provide comprehensive “direct primary care” to employees.

What does it all mean?

I suspect:

One, "being direct" is borne out of frustration with the current complex regulatory system, which seems to drive costs higher ever passing day.

Two, "being direct" is a bold attempt by businesses and providers to cut costs by cutting to the chase of health care matters by KISS (Keep it simple, stupid!),

Three, "being direct" exemplifies the American philosophy of “disruptive innovation,” i.e., there is more than one way to skin a cat by making things simpler, more direct, more convenient, more bundled, and less specialized.

I came across this direct way of doing things while interviewing “direct pay” concierge physicians and directors of ambulatory surgery centers for my book Direct Pay Independent Practices: Medicine and Surgery ( Amazon, Kindle book, $9.97).

Kindle books or e-books, by the way, are another example, of “directness" of bypassing traditional publishers by dealing directly with authors online.

If you give the matter any thought at all, you will realize “direct online care,” in the form of virtual medicine or telemedicine, has the potential of cutting out many health care middlemen.

Walmart and GE now directly contract for hip and knee replacements by contracting directly with health systems rather than going through health plans – it is simpler, more direct, and far less costly.

In Oklahoma City, many self-funded corporations and even public or government health agencies save money by sending patients directly to the Surgery Center of Oklahoma for routine surgeries for ambulatory patients.

In Wichita, Kansas, concierge physicians contract directly with local businesses for bundled primary care services. New corporate-provider partnerships are cropping up everywhere to simplify relationships and decrease costs, complications, and regulations of doing health care business.

Partnerships are replacing partisanship. Cooperation is replacing confrontation. And physicians and surgeons are learning the fundamental rule of health care nailing, "If you have a health care nail to hit, hit it on the head." Or, as Ben Franklin observed, "For want of a nail the shoe was lost; for want of a shoe the horse was lost; for want of a horse the rider was lost."

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