by Dennis Yang
Wed, Oct 3rd 2007 8:03pm
Back in the day, when you were sick, you would call the doctor, and they make a house call to diagnose your condition and provide care. In this modern age of managed care, where doctors are evaluated on the volume of patients that they are able to process, house calls are now but a distant memory. Now, Dr. Jay Parkinson, a Brooklyn doctor, brought the house call back -- but it's been updated for the times. Parkinson has started a new medical practice that centers around instant messenger, email and house calls. During regular business hours, he is available to his patients for online medical consultations. Dr. Parkinson then pays the patient a house call only if it is really necessary (you get two included house calls in the fee), but most issues can be addressed virtually. This is not surprising since studies confirm that online chat with your doctor is nearly as effective as an in-person visit. Specializing in young adults age 18 to 40 without traditional health insurance, this approach could teach a few things to the health care industry. Of course, what he's doing is really similar to what many nurse practitioners do, so you could see him scaling his practice by employing a staff of nurse practitioners who answer IMs and emails, and then escalating qualifying issues to doctors and specialists. A second interesting point about Parkinson's plan is that since all of his clients are very price conscious (since they're paying out of pocket), he actively shops around for the best value specialists to send his clients to. In the age of copayments and insurance, you very rarely see much price comparison shopping in health care. As we've discussed here before, the current health care system is beset with problems, so it's encouraging to see a differentiated spur some excitement (and competition) in a very homogeneous marketplace.
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