Benjamin Franklin ( 1706-1790 ), Poor Richard’s Almanack (1757)
April 4, 2012 - I have this quaint notion that the typical American entrepreneur and the typical American adult are no fools. They are smart, analytical, pragmatic, and practial.
Every once in a while, entrepreneurs come up with an idea that satisfies physicians and adult patients alike and makes sense.
The Life Line Screening idea is this: Sooner or later, everybody will come down with one disease or another , and one is better off to have evidence of the possible impending disease than not.
From living life, the typical aging American knows this. He/she have friends or relatives who have passed away prematurely or as part of natural aging from stroke, heart disease, a broken hip, a ruptured abdominal aneurysm, or some other preventable event.
So it makes sense to be screened conveniently and affordably (now $149) at a local, YMCA, community center, church, senior center, or business by a team of screeners that come to you, rather than you going to them, particularly when local physicians and hospitals back the idea of preventive screening.
Perhaps that’s why, Life Line screening, Inc., founded in Florida in 1993 by businessmen Colin Scully and Tim Phillips, has grown to a company with 1000 employees with over 7 million screenings performed.
· Stroke/carotid artery disease
· Abdominal aneurysm and peripheral arterial disease
· Lipid disorders and diabetes
To these procedures the company has added for a $79 fee health assessments for major preventable or present major chronic disease based on a combination of procedural results and extensive questionnaires.
I expressed the idea behind community-based preventive screening five years ago in a blog .
Clinical innovation - Life Line Screening: An Example of an Innovation that the Public Wants and Will Pay For – March 3, 2007
In my last blog, I cited Peter F. Drucker’s comment that the key to a successful innovation is one that customers want and will pay for. This will become increasingly important in consumer-driven health care. In this new environment, patients will pay more out of pocket, will take more responsibility for their health, and will seek more value for their dollar.
No Better Example
I can think of no better example of a successful innovative company in the health care field than Life Line Screening, Inc, headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio. It operates in 48 states and has teams of nurse and other professionals riding in more than 100 mobile vans to conduct screening clinics. These clinics feature two basic technologies: non-invasive ultrasound to screen for carotid artery disease, abdominal aneurysms, peripheral vascular disease, and osteoporosis; and blood tests to screen for diabetes and coronary risk (lipid panels and C-reactive protein).
Life Line Screening markets their services by local and national media and sets up appointments for screening sessions in local neighborhoods, places of worship, and community and senior centers. The charge is $129 for four ultrasound vascular screening and $45 or less for the blood tests. Groups of well-qualified back-up physicians interpret results, help contact patients, and refer them to local physicians should something abnormal occur. The company continues to grow each year.
In my own circle of friends, I know of at least half a dozen who get screened each year and who consider the screening an annual not-to-miss ritual well worth the price.
Why is Life Line Screening so successful? I think the reasons are quite simple.
• It’s personal -- Who among us hasn’t known of someone who died or been incapacitated by a sudden and unexpected stroke, heart attack, ruptured abdominal aneurysm, fractured hip, or has suffered the ravages of diabetes?
• There’s something magical about directly visualizing a vascular lesion in time to do something about it.
• It answers the fundamental question asked by admirers of innovation: “Now why didn’t I think of that?”
I shall conclude by noting that the work of Life Line Screening is not without controversy; Some physicians regard these screenings as unnecessary, as producing a low yield of preventable diseases, and as an invasion of their professional turf.
Tweet: Life Line Screening, an Ohio company that performs preventive screening in community settings, has screened 7 million patients since 1993.