Healthcare offers very little value. Healthcare in 2021 is what the taxi industry was before Uber. I don’t expect that we’ll have any Ubers in healthcare anytime soon. Even with Google, Amazon, and Apple entering the scene, they are mostly looking to get a small percentage of the existing transactions.
Most companies that are entering healthcare hope to profit from very perverse incentives created by the pharmaceutical companies. They are hoping to get a piece of the pie for each interaction between the insurance company and pharma.
So is healthcare fucked? Surely not. There are incredible physicians offering incredible services to patients who desperately needed. But these physicians are often working outside of the insurance model and only a few of them exist out there.
Airbnb came along and offered the ability for homeowners to make money off of their properties. They also allowed the consumer to bypass the hotel industry which was as entrenched as the taxi industry.
So how can a physician offer value to patients? What is it that patients are looking for and what are they willing to pay for? It’s not as simple as asking a patient if they would pay for xyz. Often times the patient has poor insight into what their perceived value is in their healthcare journey.
You guys ask me all the time how you can create your own brand. You ask me how you can do your own thing on your own terms. Listen up, this will be relevant to you.
Value is when the patient is getting more for the time and money they invest.
Value in Healthcare
Healthcare is impersonal. It’s inefficient. It’s expensive. Healthcare lacks transparency. Simple things in healthcare are anything but.
Hypertensive patients are all lumped together. Diabetic patients are all managed using the same outdated formularies and workflows.
We don’t differentiate between patient A and patient B. They are all grouped by a blood test or vital. But the reality is that the patients fall into clear categories.
If you can streamline the process for a particular group of patients in a particular disease category then you can create something which can be efficient and applied to thousands of patients.
Perceived Value in Healthcare
For me as a patient, for Mohammad Ashori, my perceived value in healthcare is receiving care from someone who is knowledgeable and has experience in their particular field.
For many others value in healthcare is how quickly they can be seen by someone with an MD degree. The expertise of that person matters less.
Another patient sees value in how easy the process is from diagnosis to treatment. They want a clear-cut diagnosis and they want their meds shipped to their door and a reminder to go off on their phone when it’s time to take it.
Competing with the Big Guys
The good news is that you as a solo physician don’t have to compete with the big guys. No Kaiser or Cleveland Clinic or Amazon will be able to offer the kind of value you can offer as an individual.
Don’t Complicate Western Medicine
We think that what we do is sometimes god’s work. As if we stew over a lipid profile for hours and scour the literature to see what the best treatment is for a patient. Please.
When a patient comes to you with acne you have them use Epiduo. If they fail it then you add on an oral antibiotic as well. Once they fail that it’s time for Accutane.
The good thing about western medicine is that treatment guidelines are already established. The bad thing about western medicine is … well, that there are established treatment guidelines. Meaning, we aren’t treating each patient individually but lumping them together to make it easier and predictable.
We can take advantage of this by figuring out what diseases in our specialty can be streamlined and focusing on those. For some of you, it’s insomnia. For others, it’s blepharitis. Figure out what disease you can streamline and target the right patients for this treatment algorithm.
Certain things are a given in healthcare. A patient with asthma needs a rickety plastic peak flow meter. They need their albuterol and a steroid inhaler. Done. This would offer a lot of value in healthcare.
They need the medicine shipped out to them regularly so that they are never without medicine. They need to upload their peak flows every few weeks so that someone can keep track of their numbers.
Never should a streamlined asthmatic have to call for a refill or wait at a pharmacy to see if their doctor called in their Atrovent. That’s value. That’s what the patient or the patient’s parent is willing to pay money for.
People are willing to pay extra for efficiency no matter how expensive something is. People pay thousands more to have electric windows on their cars. They’ll spend hundreds on a robotic vacuum cleaner.
Healthcare is inefficient in a patient may have to go back to their doctor several times before something is figured out. They’ll have to start the appointment process over each and every time.
A streamlined process regardless of which niche in healthcare will save the patient time and that means money. Efficiency is one of the most lucrative upsells you can have in business.
Speed is another example of efficiency but in the current setting, it often backfires. If I can see 80 patients in 10 hours I’m more efficient. But it’s not the kind of efficiency a patient desires. Yes, they want to be seen faster but they want the full attention of the physician during that visit.
Overhaul of Healthcare
We don’t need to overhaul healthcare for everyone. I believe there are enough people out there who are okay with the current paradigm that it wouldn’t benefit society as a whole to make a sweeping change.
Imagine that you could overhaul one single process to add more value in medicine. What change would you make to one workflow or process in order to make healthcare more valuable?
Here is an example, it’s the pandemic and there isn’t a website where you can go for COVID-19 questions. There isn’t a site where you can ask questions to vetted physicians whom you can trust to answer all your COVID-19 questions from prevention to treatment to PPX.
The time a patient would have to spend researching this would be astronomical because of all the shit information that’s out there. A comprehensive website for COVID-19 with medical experts would be the value in healthcare one could offer the customer.