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Restoring Humanity to Health Care – My Experience Part 1

Posted on February 26, 2015 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

In light of yesterday’s short story post, and also my post on EMR and EHR about concierge medicine, I thought it timely for me to document might entrance into what many are calling the next generation of healthcare. They talk about it as primary care that puts people first.

In my case, it’s my recent membership in Turntable Health, an operating partner of Iora Health. When I had to switch insurance plans this year, I decided to try out this new approach to primary care. The insurance plan I chose included a membership to Turntable Health. For those not familiar with Turntable Health, it was started by the infamous ZDoggMD and is backed by Tony Hsieh’s (CEO of Zappos) Downtown Project in Las Vegas.

To be honest, I’m not sure exactly what I’ve gotten myself into, but that was kind of the point. I can’t remember the last time I went to a primary care doctor. In fact, if someone asked me who my primary care doctor was I wouldn’t have an answer or I might mention one that my wife visited. I’m a relatively healthy person (luckily I have some good orthopedic friends for my sports injuries) and so I’ve never felt the desire to go in and see my doctor. I feel healthy, so why should I go and pay a doctor to tell me I’m healthy? I think this view is shared by many.

Will Turntable Health be able to change my view on this? Will they be able to take a true Wellness approach to things that will change how I view primary care? I’ve written for years about Treating a “Healthy” Patient, and so I’m interested to see if Turntable Health is making that a reality.

One thing is for sure. They’re taking a different approach than most doctors. I scheduled my first appointment for later today (Side Note: Not sure what it says that it took me 1-2 months to schedule my first appointment.). They slotted me in for an hour long appointment (a requirement for the first appointment) so that they can really get to know me and my wellness needs. Plus, they said I’d get a chance to get to meet my care team. A care team? What’s that? I’ll let you know after my appointment, but looking at their team I’d say it includes physicians together with health and wellness coaches.

The idea of a team of people thinking about my and my family’s wellness is intriguing. Although, I’ll admit that this wasn’t the biggest reason I chose to sign up with Turntable Health. It was part of the reason, but I was also excited by the idea of unlimited primary care. With unlimited primary care, it opens the door to things like text messages or eVisits with your doctor since they’re truly interested in your wellness and not churning another office visit to get paid.

With a family of 4 kids, there are dozens of times where my wife and I debate whether an office visit is needed. Every parent knows the debate. Am I just being paranoid or are they really sick? Is that rash something that needs to be treated right away or should I give it some time? Final answer: Let’s just take them in, because I don’t want it to be something bad and then I feel like I’m an awful parent because I chose not to take them in. I’m hopeful that with Turntable Health we can alleviate those fears since we don’t have to pay for the visit and we can start with an online visit which saves us time. That’s extremely compelling to me.

I can already say that my experience has been different. After scheduling my first appointment, I got the usual email confirming my appointment, offering directions to the office, and inviting me to fill out an “Online Health Assessment.” I thought it was cool that they were asking me to fill out those lengthy health history forms electronically before the visit. Turns out I was wrong. It was a survey style assessment of my health and wellness. They asked questions about my mental and physical health. They asked about my diet and exercise. They even asked about my quality of life. There weren’t any questions about my neck issue or the pain in my hand, let alone my allergies or past medical history. I wonder if they’ll do that when I get to the office. Plus, I’ll be interested to see what questions they ask me about that true wellness assessment.

Like I said, this appointment should be interesting. To be honest, I feel like I’m learning a new healthcare system. I know what’s appropriate and how the regular doctors office works. Here I’m not sure what’s right or wrong. Take for example the list of health and wellness classes Turntable Health offers with their membership. What other primary care office offers Tai Chi, Hot Hula and Meditation courses? I might even have to start doing yoga. Why not? It’s free. Although, what a different approach to Wellness.

There you go. There’s part 1 of my introduction into a new model for primary care. How will it go? We will see. How will they handle the fact that I’m a picky eater and that doesn’t jive well with many of their perspectives on Wellness? Will they really care about my wellness enough to reach out to me beyond appointments? How will my family and I react to this outreach? Will we stonewall them or will we embrace the increased interaction? It will be a fun journey and I hope you’ll enjoy me sharing it with you.

All in all, it does feel like they’re trying to restore humanity to healthcare. We’ll see how much we like humanity.

Update: Check out part 2.

Trusting Relationships with Technology and Its Importance in Healthcare

Posted on December 17, 2010 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Bobby Gladd recently pointed out this interesting YouTube video of Dr. Joseph Kvedar speaking at the 2010 Connected Health Symposium. In the video Dr. Kvedar makes some interesting observations about humans and their relationships with devices and how that applies in healthcare. He calls it emotional automation. Check out the video if you have a few minutes.

I find this concept really intriguing. At a very practical level (since my heart is very practical), I couldn’t help but draw the parallel from what Joseph Kvedar said and the idea of the online doctor’s visit. There’s so many reasons that this should be successful and so many situations where an in person visit doesn’t matter.

I’ll share a quick personal experience. Being around doctors and working with doctors as much as I do, I’ve had occasion where I was feeling sick and didn’t have the time to go and see my regular doctor. In one instance, I was leaving for Hawaii the next morning and it was 4 PM the day before. Basically, no time to get to my doctor.

As it so happened, I was in the office of a doctor that I worked with. I mentioned the issue and told him my symptoms. He then asked if I wanted him to write me a script. I was a bit taken a back by the request. I certainly wanted his help, but shouldn’t we have gone in and done the routine. You know the routine. The one where the doctor listens to your breathing and heart (or whatever they’re really listening to). Feels around your neck. Looks in your mouth and ears.

Instead, this doctor went straight to the script. Turns out I’ve since learned that in many cases that doctor routine just isn’t really needed. In fact, many times it’s just done for the sake of the patient and not part of the diagnosis at all. Oh the dirty little secrets of healthcare. If you’re a doctor you already know all about this I’m sure. And certainly I’m not advocating removing the patient visit all together. Just in many cases it’s just not needed.

Of course, my point isn’t necessarily advocating a certain treatment method of not. I’m not a doctor and I don’t claim to be. I’m just sharing what I’ve heard other doctors say. What I am suggesting is that for this change to happen, there’s going to have to be a change of mentality by the patient as much as the doctor.

Dr. Kvedar describes well in the video above that we’re capable of relationships with technology. We can change our behavior and adapt to these types of changes. It will just need the right amount of education and technology to make it happen. I know some EMR vendors have patient portals, but I haven’t seen many that have dove in head first to the online visit model. Probably because the reimbursement model for online visits is still lagging behind.

Lots of really interesting things to chew on in this discussion. I’ve really just begun the conversation. I have a feeling the comments on this post are going to be intense.