By Nathan Barton
Whenever we hear of medical progress and improvements these days, we hear about new technology and new drugs or nutrients, at least 99.9% of the time: new tests, new sensors, new treatments, new antibiotics, new natural substances to do great things to the body. New this and that: many of which pan out to be fads or even outright hoaxes: modern equivalents of snake-oil salesmen.
Very rarely do we think about improvements in the WAY that medical care is delivered. Oh, there have been some: the development of emergency medical services, with technicians and the rolling hospital trauma rooms we still call ambulances (compare to a M*A*S*H rerun and remember) is one. Even the development of emergency rooms in hospitals. Perhaps the most recent (now at least 30 years old) is the widespread development of “urgent care clinics,” to replace (or at least supplement) emergency rooms and departments. But now as the supposedly rapid place of medical technology is unable to keep up with the calcification of the arteries of the medical ECONOMY, we may be seeing a new breakthrough.
Laissez Faire recently published this interesting article via e-mail: Innovators Uberizing Health Care, Courtesy of Jud Anglin. (The health care article was one of several others on this page and had no separate link. ML)
Heal: Currently serving Los Angeles. Heal lets you summon a doctor to your house in under 60 minutes. They don’t accept insurance. Instead, Heal charges a flat rate of $99 per consult. If you live in LA, you can download their app today to begin using their service. If you don’t live in LA but do live in California, know that Heal has aggressive expansion plans for the rest of the state.
WhiteCoat: Currently serving Los Angeles and Orange County, California. A competitor to Heal, WhiteCoat delivers doctors right to your doorstep for $99 with insurance or $150 without insurance. You can download their app here.
Pager: Currently serving New York City. Pager is one of the bigger startups, having raised over $24 million since 2014. A first-time in-person visit costs $50, before increasing to $200 for subsequent visits. This includes on-site testing, treatments, surgical sutures and first dosage of most prescriptions. You can download their app here.
RetraceHealth: Currently serving Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota. RetraceHealth brings the primary care doctor to your door or to your computer through video conference. Of all these service providers, RetraceHealth appears to offer the most pricing options. A video visit is $60, while a home visit runs $150. However, you can combine the home visit with lab work as well for $190. Even better, their annual membership plan for $300 for your whole family provides unlimited primary care. To schedule a visit or find out more, click here.
DispatchHealth: Currently serving Denver. The average price of a DispatchHealth visit is $200 (which, compared against the average ER visit of $2,000, is obviously pretty good). You can download their app here.
MedZed: Currently serving Atlanta, New York City and California. MedZed actually sends a nurse to your house, but that nurse will then consult with one of MedZed’s doctors by video chat. Their house calls are approximately $150. They have not yet rolled out their app, but if you’d like to learn more about their solutions, click here.
I have omitted the WebSite links, but they are easy enough to find with a bit of Binging or Googling. We certainly are not recommending them, but suggest that you look for similar alternatives to “modern” health care in your area, and encourage you to tell medical care providers you know that there ARE alternatives to the rat-race of insurance and mega-corps and insane regulatory control. Once upon a time in this country, most medical providers – even nurses – were independent practitioners who ran their own businesses and had small staffs and relatively small patient loads and showed how they cared about people by their actions. That CAN happen again.
Mama’s Note: Some suggestions for anyone who contemplates using one of these alternate services. First, learn the specific signs of common medical emergencies. If you are having a heart attack, or an acute “hot” appendix, you need to be taken to an emergency room immediately, not go to a “doc in a box” or wait for a home visit. Second, if your problem is so vague that you have trouble describing it, you probably need to get some rest, drink some water and maybe eat something first. If you still think you need to be seen or are feeling worse, you can always make a call.
People have been conditioned to go to a doctor at the drop of a hat, usually having no real medical problems at all. If “insurance” is paying for it, or for most of it, the temptation to run to the doctor for every little thing is much increased, especially when children are involved.
Learn the signs and symptoms associated with real problems, and don’t hesitate to seek help for those. Learn more about your body and what it needs, how you can treat the non emergency things yourself most of the time, and pay attention to things like nutrition, hydration, hygiene and avoiding pollution and toxins in the environment. If you use “recreational” drugs or alcohol, learn your limits and the signs of overindulgence.
This “uber” alternative to standard medicine is a good trend, though home visits are seriously inefficient – and the only backup if the doctor does find a serious problem is to call an ambulance. The Uber and other alternate models can’t really spread much, however, until the non-voluntary government gets out of the way. Too many legal and liability pitfalls now, and regulation nightmares abound. Not to mention the serious and increasing shortage of doctors and most other health care professionals.