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Health and Wellness Marketplace for Cash Paying Patients Print E-mail
Written by Jeffrey Herschler   
Wednesday, 12 October 2016 13:40

Q & A with Alain Fernandez, ValueDOC
 
Editor's Note:
ValueDOC is a free health and wellness marketplace for cash-paying patients. Founder Alain Fernandez launched the website earlier this year with a couple of hundred doctors and dentists featured. ValueDOC won the Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge’s FIU Track in May. I had a chance to catch up with Alain earlier this week. Below is a transcript of our chat.

JH        In an earlier conversation you said ValueDOC is filling a void in the current healthcare marketplace. You also talked about delivering transparency and efficiency. Can you explain what you meant by that?

AF           Unfortunately, in today’s healthcare environment the self-pay patient, whether they carry no insurance or a high-deductible plan, is not able to go to one place and shop for the most basic medical or dental service, like you would if you were booking a hotel or vacation.  At www.valuedoc.com, self-pay patients can book online appointments with local, pre-screened doctors and dentists and access substantial discounts by simply using their debit or credit card. Doctors on our platform offer the most common medical, dental and wellness services, such as dental cleanings, mammogram, doctor visits, acupuncture, skin care, vision, labs, etc., in exchange for pre-payment. Patients are able to sort by price, distance, or online reviews. The entire process is both efficient and completely transparent.
 
JH        Reporter Nancy Dahlberg, in the May Miami Herald feature, referred to ValueDOC's aim to make booking a doctor as easy as ordering an Uber. What did she mean by that?

AF           I believe she was referring to how simple the process is, and how, like Uber, we are using technology and good design to completely change the patient experience.
 
JH        So what’s in it for the physician or dentist? Why would he/she want to join your network?

AF           It’s absolutely FREE for a doctor or dentist to join our platform. They simply need to create a professional profile, which can take less than ten minutes to complete online. The doctors and dentists in return get exposure to our cash marketplace, and getting paid for the visit within two business days of booking — maybe even before the service is rendered — is very appealing when many can wait months to get paid from insurances. Some doctors have lull times where they can accept pre-paying cash payments. Others may be building their practice so exposure to this marketplace can save them time and money on marketing. Like the Uber model, ValueDOC keeps a small portion per booking.
 
JH        I imagine a lot of healthy under 30 people, without access to employer coverage, would take the catastrophic plan on the exchange, fund a health savings account and sign up for ValueDOC. In fact, healthy Americans of any age (under 65), facing double digit rate increases, might be tempted to opt out of the exchange, pay the penalty and join ValueDoc. So it’s conceivable health insurers would lose business to ValueDOC. Do traditional payers view you as a threat?

AF           I don’t think so. Traditional payers have a place in the market. For the most part, health insurance is there to cover patients when their health turns for the worse.  ValueDOC is an affordable solution for a patient’s most basic medical and dental needs. I see ValueDOC as a supplemental offering patients can use for their everyday care, but can turn to their catastrophic plan if they need to go to the hospital.

JH        Trump would repeal and replace Obamacare. Meanwhile, Clinton would expand it, possibly by adding a public option. Regardless of your personal politics, it seems a Trump presidency would be better for the ValueDOC business plan. Have you given any thought to the upcoming elections and the possible impact on ValueDOC?

AF           Being involved in the healthcare sector for close to 25 years, I’m always thinking about healthcare. I don’t think that either candidate will change the fact that in the last decade patients’ out-of-pocket costs have more than doubled, and the number one reason patients don’t go to the doctor is cost. The trend of shifting cost towards the patient will continue with either president. Both candidates have noticed this trend and each have their own proposal on how to deal with it. Clinton wants a new tax credit to offset deductibles, while Trump wants to expand health savings accounts. What they both agree on is that patient consumerism and transparency is here to stay, and this is where ValueDOC is positioned to help doctors and patients alike.

Last Updated on Monday, 31 October 2016 18:18
 
Small Practices Can Prosper in Era of Consolidation Print E-mail
Written by FHI's Week in Review   
Monday, 26 September 2016 15:27

In a September 19, 2016 AAFP.org post, author Michael Laff asserts:

Although the number of large physician practices isgrowing, the choice of whether to care for patients in a small or a large practice remains in the hands of individual physicians. 

According to the author:

AAFP Board Chair Robert Wergin, MD, of Milford, Neb., who is a rural, small-practice physician, notes that plenty of resources are available to help small practices thrive. Wergin has received multiple offers to merge or sell his practice but he declines them all. He points out that studies indicate small practices are well-positioned to reduce costs and achieve higher quality.

"I like the autonomy of a small practice and the focus on an individual patient and care delivery one patient at a time," Wergin said. "Even Medicare recognizes that the survival of small practices is important," he added.

Read more in the current issue of Week in Review>>

Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 October 2016 13:37
 
Moderate Tea Drinking May Slow CAC Progression, Cut CV Event Risk Print E-mail
Written by Larry Hand | Heartwire from Medscape   
Monday, 26 September 2016 00:00

Moderate tea drinking can help to slow progression of coronary artery calcium and reduce the risk of cardiovascular events, but coffee intake may have a neutral effect, according to new research.

"We found that being a regular tea drinker was associated with a lower prevalence and progression of coronary artery calcium and a lower incidence of cardiovascular events," <states> first author Dr. P. Elliott Miller (NIH). "In contrast, we found a neutral association between regular coffee and caffeine intake with coronary artery calcium and incident cardiovascular outcomes," he added.

...The results were published online September 15, 2016 in the American Journal of Medicine.

Miller and colleagues analyzed data on more than 6500 ethnically diverse individuals involve in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA), a population-based study into the prevalence, risk factors, and progression of subclinical cardiovascular disease.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 September 2016 17:14
 
Dying to be Cured: When Healthcare Mistakes become Deadly Print E-mail
Written by FHI News   
Tuesday, 20 September 2016 10:43

A recent study by researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine says medical errors should rank as the third leading cause of death in the United States.  The Hopkins study, based on an analysis of prior studies, estimates that more than 250,000 Americans die each year from medical errors which can include death from surgical complications, prescription medication mistakes and infections.

The Hopkins researchers argue that the CDC should include medical errors as the cause of death in their published mortality statistics not the "underlying cause of death” and by doing so the public and professionals would become more aware and concerned about death by medical error. If this were the case, on the CDC's official list, death related to medical errors would rank third just behind heart disease and cancer.

This number is staggering and to put it into context it would be equivalent to 417 Boeing 747 airlines crashing per year or nearly two per day. If this was happening in the skies, we would all demand that the FAA do something to prevent it and the same should be the case with the CDC.

Dr. Alejandro Badia and Justin Irizarry believe that another opportunity for reducing deaths related to hospital medical errors is the redirection of patients reporting to an emergency room to an urgent care center.  They believed in it so much, that they Co-Founded OrthoNOW®, the nation’s only orthopedic urgent care center franchise.  Irizarry, a Wharton Fellow and financial industry experts says “According to the Urgent Care Association of America, UCAOA, 98% of patients seeking treatment at their local emergency room should be treated at an urgent care center.  The growth of specialized urgent care, such as OrthoNOW, will deliver healthcare’s triple aim; better care, better health and lower costs.”

Dr. Badia states “Aside from the time and cost savings associated with this maneuver, urgent care franchises do not accept trauma patients nor do they experience the same volume as an ER. Patients presenting to major emergency rooms are also exposed to nosocomial (hospital related) bacterial infections due to the environment present amidst long waits”.  Badia continues “Specialized, non-hospital care environments are healthier, and more efficient, for a patient seeking orthopedic acute care. Combined these facts allow urgent care medical staff extra time with a patient to discuss history and possible underlying conditions in a reduced stress environment. This minimizes both the risks of infection and the likelihood of prescription medication errors which contribute to the death rates as denoted by the Hopkins Study”.

The Hopkins Study casts a light on a significant health care delivery method weakness that will not doubt feed conversation and thought in the months to come. During this time of transformational change in the industry disruptive delivery solutions and entrepreneurial innovations like OrthoNOW are viable alternatives to hospitalization and can lower the accidental death count.

About OrthoNOW®:
OrthoNOW® is a network of specialized urgent care franchises focused on sports medicine and the treatment and prevention of the full range of orthopedic injuries, all on a walk-in basis. Services include treatment of injuries to the hand, wrist, foot, ankle, knee, spine and shoulder, as well as preventative consultation and regimens by experts in orthopedics. Named by Entrepreneur Magazine as one of the “Top Ten Franchise Opportunity” in healthcare, OrthoNOW has become the first and only orthopedic urgent care center network in the nation to provide franchise opportunities. The expansion in the past two years includes centers in Florida and Georgia. Visit www.OrthoNOWfranchise.com for more information.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 20 September 2016 11:03
 
Better Patient Care At High-Quality Hospitals Print E-mail
Written by FHI's Week in Review   
Tuesday, 13 September 2016 15:26

In a study published 9.7.16 in Health Affairs by Thomas C. Tsai, Felix Greaves, Jie Zheng, E. John Orav, Michael J. Zinner and Ashish K. Jha, researchers found:

Patients who had major surgery at high-quality hospitals in the U.S. cost Medicare less than those who had surgery at low-quality hospitals. The difference in Medicare spending was driven primarily by the cost of care in the weeks following surgery.

Read more in the current issue of Week in Review>>

Last Updated on Tuesday, 13 September 2016 15:34
 
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