Historically, visiting your medical provider meant a lot of waiting followed by an extremely brief interaction with the doctor before they scurried out the door. And it was often only then that you realized you had one more question!
Later you would complain to friends that the customer service at your medical provider was terrible. You said this because you had thought of yourself as the customer. But you were wrong. As we’ve discussed before, an organization’s customer is the person or entity who pays. Any other user of a product or service is a mere consumer.
Generally, it was the insurance company who paid the medical providers. For a variety of reasons, it was easiest for the insurance company to measure and pay a medical provider on things like number of visits, number of tests and number of procedures performed. And as we’ve all witnessed, the medical providers responded to what their customer – the insurance company – wanted and paid for. Almost uniformly across all of health care, medical providers implemented fee-for-service business models and saw the maximum number of patients, ordered a variety of tests and performed a lot of procedures.
The customer is changing
Health Savings Accounts allow individuals and families to have more control over a portion of their own health care spending. And now, with health care reform, more and more employers are allowing their employees to have their own health insurance.
Medical providers are responding. Seattle-based Qliance is one of the nation’s leading examples of a direct primary care practice. Direct primary care’s subscription pricing represents a new business model in health care. These practices don’t take insurance at all. Instead, they charge their patients an ongoing monthly subscription fee.
With this new business model, the customer is no longer the insurance company. Rather, it is the patient who is the customer. And one doesn’t need to look all the way to Seattle to find an example of this new model. We have a direct primary care provider right here in Nashville – GracePointe Healthcare.
GracePointe Healthcare – Nashville Direct Primary Care
GracePointe Healthcare, located in Franklin, was founded by Robert Tomsett. GracePointe doesn’t accept insurance, and also doesn’t have wait times, two-minute doctor visits or surprise medical bills. Patients pay a monthly subscription fee, or pay for their care at the time of appointment, which eliminates overhead costs of billing. New patients are seen for an hour and returning patients for 30 minutes, and they will see you the same day or next day. GracePointe makes sure all costs are transparent before treating a patient in order to prevent surprise medical bills.
Mr. Tomsett nearly left the medical field after decades of service because he grew wary of what he calls a “treat them and street them” mentality. He didn’t feel as though he was achieving his goal of really helping people so he decided medicine was no longer for him. It was then that he learned about subscription-based medicine.
Health care reform’s new tax rules are encouraging employers to let their employees have their own health coverage. This is putting more buying power into the hands of individuals, allowing new business models, like GracePointe’s, to flourish. Health care consumers rewarding the high-value medical providers who meet their needs most effectively can have a big impact on improving our health care system.