One Medical Group: A Concierge Service By Another Name (And Price)

Ryan Mac, Forbes Staff, March 27th, 2013 -Forbes

Routine visits to the doctor’s office have become the definition of inefficiency. Whether patients are stuck filling out mounds of paperwork or counting ceiling tiles in the examiner’s office, time–with or without insurance–is always at a premium on doctor’s visits.

Doctors are well aware of this, too. Early in his career, physician Tom X. Lee posed a simple question: When was the last time someone enjoyed visiting a doctor?

That question became the basis for One Medical Group, a San Francisco-based healthcare startup that focuses on building the physician-patient relationship and improving the average doctor’s office visit. By employing technology upgrades and a mantra of complete and transparent access to doctors, Lee’s company intends to remove the bureaucratic hindrances that have hampered the $125 billion primary care industry.

“What I found was that the system was not allowing physicians to spend enough time with their patients and constrained by the arbitrary nature of how it was financed,” he says. The issue is that insurance favors rewards based on visit volume—not efficiency or positive experiences—leading to overcrowded waiting rooms, rushed patients and stressed doctors.

“Everyone in healthcare is well-intentioned,” he says. “But the system is so bizarre that you end up doing stuff that is completely not why you went into medicine.”

One Medical is looking to reverse that. With about 90 physicians based in the Bay Area, Boston, Washington D.C., Chicago and New York, the practice accepts all types of insurance on top of a $150 to $200 annual fee that covers the cost of what it calls “patient-centered” extras. Services include same-day appointment booking through the company’s online or mobile apps and customized electronic medical records. It’s all aimed at making the doctor-patient relationship more efficient, says the company’s founder and CEO.

That focus on efficiency and improved service has made for an interesting business proposition. Last week, the company announced a $30 million round of funding led by Google Ventures, bringing the total outside investment One Medical to $77 million from firms including Benchmark and DAG Ventures. Investors are betting that consumers will pay a little more (though not as much as traditional concierge medicine practices) to make their trips to the doctors more enjoyable, something that Lee believes can only happen if doctors have more contact with their patients.

At One Medical, patients can fill out forms online to cut down waiting room times and extend the length of patient visits to their physicians. On the other side, doctors are seeing fewer patients than the average practice—only about 15 to 16 a day as opposed to the traditional 25 to 30, says Lee. Another bonus: direct email contact with doctors allows patients to ask about small concerns without having to make that visit to the office.

Technology—even something as simple as allowing email—is a main driver for humanizing the physician-patient relationship. And that’s why Lee, who holds a Stanford MBA, sees One Medical as both a medical service provider and a software company. Lee, previously a founder at health application company Epocrates, has overseen the development of a One Medical iPhone app, website and company-specific electronic medical record all for the sake of preserving the most valuable ingredient in primary care: time.

“At its highest order we’re trying to make healthcare work again,” says Lee. “We know how broken the system is and I got tired of hearing everyone complaining. I decided to fix that system.”

VIDEO Interview with Dr. Lee on Forbes

Full Article on Forbes.com

http://www.forbes.com/sites/ryanmac/2013/03/27/one-medical-group-a-concierge-service-by-another-name-and-price/

Follow Ryan Mac on Twitter >>> @RMac18

One Medical Group is certainly a success for patients across the country. As more and more physicians and investors realized that the dream of concierge medicine services for everyone is reachable. Dr. Thomas Lee and his team deserve our thanks for making in possible for more patients to find a concierge doctor.

About Concierge Medicine Journal

Concierge Medicine Journal (CMJ) curates breaking concierge medicine news, and editorial opinion on a wide variety of topics relevant to the practice of Concierge Medicine.

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