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Is Healthcare Delivery Not ‘Sexy’ Enough for Investment?

Posted on September 1, 2017 I Written By

Colin Hung is the co-founder of the #hcldr (healthcare leadership) tweetchat one of the most popular and active healthcare social media communities on Twitter. Colin speaks, tweets and blogs regularly about healthcare, technology, marketing and leadership. He is currently an independent marketing consultant working with leading healthIT companies. Colin is a member of #TheWalkingGallery. His Twitter handle is: @Colin_Hung.

On the latest #hcldr tweetchat, guest hosts Pam Ressler @pamressler and Pippa Shulman @drpippa posed an interesting question – why hasn’t the delivery of healthcare been an area of innovation? or put another way – is healthcare delivery not sexy enough to warrant investment?

Ressler and Shulman used the example of online retail giant Amazon. Among its many innovations, Amazon came up with a new way to deliver the retail experience. They found a way to deliver goods to people where and when they wanted it. Their approach to delivery was so good that it has since become the expected norm for anything purchased online.

Ressler and Shulman wanted to know why healthcare delivery wasn’t getting the attention it needed.

Shulman’s comment makes for an interesting thought exercise. Instead of just asking what it would be like if Disney ran your hospital. What if we asked what would happen if FedEx, Dominos or Amazon did. It would be fun to see uniformed “delivery agents” speed-walking through the hospital carrying meals and oxygen tanks.

Deanne Kasim @DKasim agreed with Shulman and Ressler:

Kasim’s “need it, want it” statement really struck a chord with the #hcldr community. It’s not just a case of delivering care in the way that patients want it (ie: Telehealth), we need to think about delivering it in when and where patients need it. Telehealth during regular business hours is helpful, but imagine how much more successful it would be if it were available after-hours when most people are home from work. The same with text messaging and email communication.

Kat McDavitt @katmcdavitt tweeted her frustration with this timing mismatch:

Dr. David Tom Cooke @DavidCookeMD went further and provided a great example of how appointment-booking could use an Amazon-upgrade.

Later in the chat, Dr. Cooke provided an compelling idea. Instead of trying to make healthcare delivery attractive for investment by making it “sexy” (which many believed would be very hard), why don’t we just present it as it is – a difficult and challenging problem.

I believe one of the best ways to spur investment is to have a bold pioneer show the world how successful they can be. Amazon showed the world how shopping online could be as-good-as (and now even better than) shopping in-person. FedEx showed us that next-day delivery could be done affordably and reliably. I believe it will take a healthcare pioneer to help blaze the trail for innovation in healthcare delivery.

For a time, Turntable Health in Las Vegas was one such pioneer. Zubin Damania MD, better known as @ZDoggMD, created a wholistic practice – one that made health a relationship rather than a transaction. They used technologies to engage patients in their care and they helped their patients with prevention as much as treatment.

James Legan MD, who practices in Montana, is another pioneer who projects his EHR so that patients can see what he is entering. He has also linked his EHR to a cloud-based customer-relationship-management (CRM) system so that his practice can be more efficient in the way they serve the community.

There are also practices like Access Healthcare in North Carolina and Izbicki Family Medicine in Pennsylvania that are demonstrating the benefits of direct primary care for both patients and physicians.

Hopefully there is a physician practice pioneer out there today that will become the beacon that will attract more investment in healthcare delivery. If you know of one, please email me or put their name in the comments section.

Healthcare Costs Hit Home

Posted on July 26, 2013 I Written By

As Social Marketing Director at Billian, Jennifer Dennard is responsible for the continuing development and implementation of the company's social media strategies for Billian's HealthDATA and Porter Research. She is a regular contributor to a number of healthcare blogs and currently manages social marketing channels for the Health IT Leadership Summit and Technology Association of Georgia’s Health Society. You can find her on Twitter @JennDennard.

I attended my first #HCLDR tweetchat recently, enticed by the topic of healthcare price transparency and a recent diagnosis that will soon send me in for outpatient surgery. Needless to say, my interest in the cost of healthcare services has intensified. While I do have insurance, that’s not to say that the expense will be tolerable. I have asked for every office involved to give me detailed explanations of what my estimated charges will be, how they arrived at those figures, how those figures might change, and what my percentage of those charges will be based on my insurance plan. And then I asked everyone to explain everything again. Luckily, I had the time and the resources to keep asking questions.

I even called another facility in the area to see if their estimates were competitive. That led me down another rabbit hole of inquiry. To truly know what you’ll pay for at a hospital, you not only have to take into account the hospital’s estimate, but also know that you’ll likely also receive a bill from the surgeon, lab, anesthesiologist, and pretty much any other –ologist you come into contact with – all of whom are likely contracted with the hospital, rather than its full-time employees. There was even a sign to this effect when I went in for my pre-op. No wonder patients feel so bewildered and slightly intimidated when faced with the cost of treatment.

Where does the money go? Who gets paid what for which service? If the hospital’s chargemaster says this, but writes down 50% of it due to contract with a payer, then what is the procedure’s true value? I was quoted $18,000 for one procedure, which was then whittled down to just over $3,000 after contract pricing and insurance plans were taken into account. That seems a little off to me. Was there ever a time when a hospital charged a patient what a procedure was worth? And what about patients that can’t afford care? I was candidly told by a hospital employee that sometimes those that don’t have coverage end up paying less than those that do. I’ve never been good at math, but to me, this just doesn’t add up.

I’m not the only one who has questions when it comes to healthcare price transparency. I’ve listed below some of my favorite tweets from the #HCLDR chat, and hope that you’ll find them pertinent to whatever healthcare situation you might find yourself in. (Special thanks to #HCLDR co-founder Colin Hung for Storifying the chat, thus providing me with screenshots of the tweets below. You can view the full Storify story here.)

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