Thursday, May 22, 2014

Castle Connolly’s Top Doctors Expands to Concierge Medicine and Europe

I am easily satisfied with the very best.

Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)  

This is an interview with John Connolly,  Ed.D. one of the two founders of Castle  Connolly, Ltd.  The other founder is  John K. Castle.   Dr. Connolly was President of New York Medical College for more than ten years. Mr. Castle served for six years as a commissioner and executive officer of the Joint Commission (formerly JCAHO); he also served as Chairman of the Board of New York Medical College for eleven years and served on its Board for twenty-two years.

For more than 20 years,  the mission of Castle Connolly Medical Ltd. has  been  to help consumers find the best healthcare and the best doctors in America.  Toward this end, Castle Connolly has  published a series of books including the "Top Doctors" series, the most popular of which is America's Top Doctors®.   

Peers nominate the top doctors, which  are then listed in book after an extensive survey of their credentials based on their medical education, training, hospital appointments, disciplinary histories - and much more. Each year Castle Connolly hosts a ceremony in New York City honoring physicians and others have made outstanding contributions to medicine.

I am conducting this interview because  Castle Connolly is now in process of expanding its Top Doctor concept to concierge physicians and to Europe.

Q:  John, what is your title?

A: I am president and CEO of Castle Connolly Medical Ltd.

Q: What is the background of Castle Connolly?

A:  We’ve been in business for over 20 years.Our mission is to help people find the best health care.  We do that through a very intensive research program where we survey thousands of physicians a year, and they nominate their peers.   Our research team, which is headed by a physician, reviews all the credentials  and identifies those who are among the very best.  Our database is now close to 40,000 physicians in all specialties and subspecialties all over the country.

Q: And then you publish a book of these top doctors nationally, regionally, and locally? 

A: Yes, we do.  We not only publish it in print but on our website,  We have relationships with 35 regional magazines.  They do their Top Doctors issues, which is typically their number one selling issue.  We do all the research and provide them with a list of doctors.

Q: And each year you sponsor an event in New York City acknowledging the nation’s  Top Doctors?

A:  Yes, the next one in 2015 will be the tenth such event.  It’s in elegant dinner, and it’s called the National Physician of the Year Award.  Our mission is to reward physicians for clinical excellence.  Each year we recognize three selected physicians nationally for that and two for lifetime achievement.   We also recognize someone who may not be a physician who has  take a major leadership position   in some health care cause.

Q: The health care scene is being transformed from a privately oriented system to a government dominated system.   This transformation is being met with resistance.

A:  The government is taking a greater role in health care than ever before with the ObamaCare legislation with massive government involvement at all levels.  Consequently,  there is massive turmoil.  In fact, a physician I was chatting with two days ago said he thought it was the Wild West all over again. Hospitals are taking over other hospitals,  buying physician practices,  everybody is  realigning, and consortiums are forming and falling apart.  Health care is in turmoil for hospitals, physicians, and patients. 

Q: Beneath all this turmoil is the yearning for more personal relationships for patients with doctors with optimum access to the best doctors. To undercut this turmoil,  people are looking for quality and certainty and less bureaucracy.   As I see it,  you seek to identify that quality and crezte ,pre  certainty and more personal  relationships between patients and  doctors.

A: We certainly do  And as result,  we’re going to be launching a concierge medicine company.  
 It ‘s going to be called Castle Connolly Private Health Partners.   Patients will pay a fee to join a practice in which they get more time with their physician, quicker access to appointments,  more information on prevention, and just a lot more care.   

At the same time, physicians can enhance their income significantly  and practice the way they always  dreamed they could practice.   

Instead of trying to follow 2200 patients,  they will be seeing 500 or 600 patients. Instead of spending 12 minutes with a patient, the current average,  they will be able to spend an hour.  It’s a better situation for the physician as well as for the patient.

Q: At what stage of development is that concierge company?

A:  We will probably launch it at the end of June or early July.

Q: How are you going to identify these concierge physicians?

A:  The focus will be on primary care.  We have a huge  primary care database already listed as Castle Connolly Top Doctors.   These primary care physicians  are intensely interested in participating. 

Q: So these primary care doctors have been conditioned to know what Castle Connolly represents – namely documented quality?

A:  That is why we think will give patients a lot of comfort and confidence in what we are doing with our concierge model. Our brand name is associated with quality.  Patients are very concerned about quality – losing their doctor,  losing their health plan,  losing their hospital.  They are concerned about many things.  These uncertainties are having a dramatic effect and are unsettling to many patients and doctors and employers alike. 

Q: I understand you have another venture underway – extending your Top Doctor concept into Europe.   Is that true?

A:  Well, we think people all over the world are concerned about finding the best doctor.   We get calls in our office from Europe and Asia about where to find the best doctor.   So we have invested in a company Top  Doctors  ES, which is based in Spain but is expanding to Italy this year and to other countries is Europe as well.   It is the same basic model as Castle Connolly in the U.S. with small differences.   We’ve licensed our brand Top Doctors to them.   It’s going very,  very,  well, and it’s only two years old.  It has a terrific management team, a married couple .

Q: Are the Europeans looking for alternative to the national social welfare systems so prevalent in their countries?

A:  In Europe,  they do have government-supported health systems.  But there’s a  public system and a private system with the same doctors and the same hospitals.  But if you call for an appointment in the public system, it takes months to get that appointment.   If you call the private system,  and you have insurance or have cash,  you wait two days.   Governments are under fiscal pressures, and they are cutting back on the public side.  The wait times and the difficulties of access are increasing.  For us, it’s an ideal situation, and the doctors and hospitals are interested in attracting private patients. 

Q:  Why did you pick Spain as a launch site?

A:  They picked us. This couple had already started their business, and after six or seven months, they stumbled upon us on the Internet.   They invited us to meet and to talk and to invest in their company, now called Top

Q: Wow, you have a lot of ventures going.

A: Yes, we are very busy, and it’s an exciting time for us. 

Q:  Given the turmoil in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world,  Your timing is right, and you have laid the base for expansion.  Good luck.

A: Thank you.

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