Blow It Up, Start From Scratch, and Reinvent Healthcare

A year ago, Josh Linkner from Detroit Venture Partners wrote a “snarky blog post” (his words) about the horrible experience of visiting a doctor.  He offered suggestions on how to improve the experience and made the prediction that a creative approach would boost patient satisfaction, staff morale, and profits.

Little did he know that BlueSky Health implemented many of his suggestions at our two Michigan clinics as far back as 2006 (in fact, we completely eliminated appointment wait times, thus requiring little need for many of the amenities he called for).  And, yes, his prediction was correct – we have a 99.7% patient satisfaction rating, happy employees, and higher profits.

With apologies to Josh, his suggestions just nibble at the edges of the massively dysfunctional industry we call “healthcare”.

We need to go a lot further.

It is time to blow it up, start from scratch, and reinvent healthcare as we know it.  Dare I say “fix it” once and for all!

What do I mean?  It is time to make healthcare responsive, comprehensive, accessible, transparent, efficient, connected, and engaging. Value EquationThese seven things might seem daunting, but such expectations are no different from what top companies like Quicken LoansZappos and Apple deliver their customers everyday.  If we can implement these seven things with healthcare, the outcome will not only be greater satisfaction, but also better quality and lower cost.  The value equation will increase significantly.

But how do we do that?  To start, healthcare cannot be fixed with continued complexity.  Government, insurance companies, and hospital systems continually add more bureaucracy, gatekeepers, and complicated payment structures. Strip Away LayersIn order to fix healthcare, we must strip away layers of management, communication, and payment.  Ultimately it will result in a desired endpoint where only the people directly vested in great care and great health are involved; where care is direct and you own the relationship and the outcomes.

Yes, you can own it.  Imagine owing your own healthcare and having providers working directly for you, the owner, not massively bloated hospital systems or insurance companies.  Providers would finally be freed to care for you, the patient, in the most effective, efficient and responsive ways possible, and involving the latest technologies and communication methods.  You would finally be able to access your doctor 24/7 and even text message her!

BlueSky Health is working to make this happen.  We are a new kind of employer healthcare provider and a new kind of healthcare company.  Much more than a doctor’s office and well beyond simple onsite clinics, we are an Organized System of Care.  We deal directly with patients and employers by providing care and coordinating among specialists, services and organizations.  The result is responsive, comprehensive, accessible, transparent, efficient, connected, engaging, and quality care at remarkably better prices.  We bring back control of healthcare and health spend.

[pullquote align=”right”]“How many businesses do you know that want to cut their revenue in half? That’s why the healthcare system won’t change the healthcare system.” –Rick Scott, Governor of Florida and Former Healthcare Executive in a conversation with Vinod Khosla[/pullquote]

What is it exactly?  First and foremost, a focus on primary care since primary care is the part of healthcare that we all interact with the most.  It is an integrated network of onsite and near-site clinics all practicing evidence-based medicine and intensely focused on maximizing the value equation.  The clinics are lean and efficient, removing the barriers between patient and provider, and eliminating the costly overhead that insurance billing requires.  Specialists and ancillary services (imaging, lab, Rx, PT, counseling, chiropractic, etc.) are either brought in-house or coordinated with existing high-value suppliers.  Finally, payment is simple, predictable, direct, and based on outcomes.  Through this arrangement we can cover 80-90% of healthcare needs and manage the other 10-20%.

We are sorely mistaken if we think government, insurance companies, and the big hospital systems will fix it themselves.  The behemoth hospital systems cannot do what BlueSky Health is envisioning.

Employers must be the drivers of change.  Just doing the same thing over and over is not a “perk” or a “benefit”.  It’s time to turn healthcare into a competitive advantage.

If you like what you hear, we could use some help.  We are looking for an employer that truly wants to make healthcare a competitive advantage and one that does not stand for the status quo.  We can think of no better candidates than what Josh, Dan Gilbert and their partners are doing in Detroit.  They are reinventing a great city. Are they aware that they can reinvent healthcare as well?

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