Private Healthcare Consultants Filling in the Gaps? Spotlight on PinnacleCare: Part I

From "Firms give health advice for a price," by Linda Wertheimer, in today's edition of The Boston Globe:

"Private health consultants are trying to fill a gap in healthcare created by overworked primary care doctors who have less time to coordinate patient care, while also catering to the desire of a growing number of patients to take charge of their healthcare. Consultants, many of whom are registered nurses, social workers, or physicians, help clients find specialists and also will make calls to ensure that a patient's various doctors are communicating with each other."

Personal healthcare navigators don't come cheap...These interim healthcare consultants price services hourly or remain on retainer.

Fees range from $150/hour to $100k/year.

So what do you get for your money?

Let's take a closer look at one firm, PinnacleCare, a "professional health advisory firm" providing "one call access to the best in class worldwide."

A PinnacleCare standard family membership rings up at 10k according to the Boston Globe. It includes:
  • "24/7 expert management of their healthcare issues, large or small"
  • email/phone consultation with a personal health advisor
  • face-to-face time with a personal health advisor
  • health advisors supported by crack research team of MDs and PhDs
  • preventative/primary care coordination
  • health investment advice (HSA reviews? insurance plan selection assistance? not sure what this encompasses...)
  • acceptance of family members "regardless of age or present health"
  • "emergency assistance"
  • foreign travel assistance
I've requested a membership info kit; I'll review the information and post Part II after speaking with a PinnacleCare rep.

Why keep an eye on the nascent personal healthcare navigation sector?

Although 3,600 members isn't exactly a booming market, PinnacleCare alone is doing brisk business:

"PinnacleCare serves 3,600 members across the country and abroad, including the families of 20 billionaires, said Dr. Miles Varn, a former emergency room physician and the company's chief medical officer. "

""We consider ourselves a health advisory service much in the same way people have health managers and financial planners," he said.""

Two interesting ways the sector may evolve:

1. Increasing competition in the space as private firms form.
2. Increasing competition in the space as hospitals themselves form health navigator/care coordinator departments which provide a la carte services to the higher income self-pay population.

Either way, a gaping market opportunity exists.

A quick search of the Washington DC Craigslist page returned zero results for "care coordinator," "healthcare navigator," "healthcare concierge," or "healthcare coordinator" in the services section. The same search in the 'jobs' section returned only opportunities in existing sectors such as medical office administration, home health and nonprofit healthcare.

"It's about everybody being overwhelmed by healthcare (Joanna Smith, psychotherapist, Healthcare Liaison) " - our system won't become miraculously simpler to transverse any time in the near future.

No comments: