The Great American Road Trip is not dead - it's morphing to meet the needs of the next generation of artists, journalists, filmmakers, and summer savants.
Tomorrow I'm hopping in a rental car, picking up a director friend from Baltimore, and highway-hiking up to NYC to shoot some film of Jay Parkinson's Hello Health enterprise for a documentary.
Like Jay's practice, our little guerilla webumentary will be the opposite of big-budget, deep pocket business innovation. It's a stealth review of healthcare in the US - a gut-level, highly subjective, opinionated look at where we might be headed. Hello Health is a fitting primary locus for shooting.
If done right, Jay's practice could be the start of a more accessible way for patients to access primary care in the 'real world' - creating a sort of Starbucks of general medicine.
Of course, the documentary, like Hello Health, could turn out to be a big fail - but we'll just have to wait and see...it's encouraging to see the initial tentative stirrings of people creating products that migrate slightly outside the 'traditional' delivery space - where it's a lot of talk and very little action - to take big risks. In real life, nobody hands out A's for effort.
I learned about the launch of Hello Health last month, watching Jay present at 2:30pm @HIMSS DC Summit, 6.9.2008.
This isn't catastrophic coverage, and it isn't quite concierge care - it's a cash and carry way for the middle 80 to get access to physicians in their neighborhood.
Here are my thoughts from the show, and a record of the brief chat I had with Jay afterwards:
The Grand Ballroom North at the Renaissance Hotel in DC has one of the most happening healthcare speakers at the podium, but he's preaching to a crowd of 14. Most are fidgeting, have arms crossed, or are looking slightly shell-shocked as Jay Parkinson walks us through Hello Health's army of ground-breaking widgets.
Jay is consumer-healthcare's golden boy, or the doctor you love to hate, depending on who you're asking. The good doctor presented today at The Healthcare Information Management and Systems Society's DC Summit 08.
He's wellspoken, sardonic, and one of Health 2.0's fashion icons (if there isn't such a group, I just invented it).
I had the chance to grab Jay after his talk for about 10 minutes.
Here's what the guy who's determined to change the face of American primary care delivery had to say (just after we finished commenting on the miniscule size of the audience pool).
Jen: Why did you decide to do such an intimate presentation on Hello Health and Myca here at HIMSS? It's a pretty stodgy event (no insult intended) to release something of this disruptive nature – so why here?
Jay: It wasn't really released here – I don't know, because they asked me. I mean, I will never back down from an opportunity to tell people what I'm doing and what Myca is and what our platform is. I mean you have to do publicity. Any publicity is good publicity.
Jen: Any publicity is good publicity, ok, lesson number 25 for the day.
Jay: Lesson number one.
Jen: Afternoon session (2:30-3:30pm), I noticed that there were not a whole lot of people in the room. Looked like maybe some doctors, 2-3 reporters. I guess I'm shocked because this is a natural fit for me, about people's reticence to accept the concept. Does that worry you at all? Are you unconcerned about people's opinions?
Jay: No, I don't care what the healthcare industry really thinks of me and this concept. I only care what consumers think. If you can create the consumer experience that Apple has created, I think people will choose to buy it, or they won't.
Jen: And they'll talk with their wallets?
Jay: They'll talk with their wallets – And my job is to get them to use their wallets for healthcare, you know?
Jen: Yeah, and that's because you're a cash-only practice?
Jen: And you're charging, what was it for a base fee per month? How do those costs work?
Jay: It's 25 dollars a month and then 75-100 dollars per in-person visit, depending on what it is, complexity, that kind of thing.
Jen: Ok. So I can set up an online account and you take a direct debit right out of my bank account (for the monthly fee), I can do all of that online, I can have basically a doctor, a Hello Health doctor on retainer, and then if I need to see you I come in and I'm dropping 75-100 dollars cash. That's it? And it's done? No billing to insurance? No secondary billing? No collections?
Jay: No, I think we'll build the engine that if you have insurance we'll submit the claim to the insurance company. And then you...
Jen: Fight the company. To get a check.
Jay: Yeah, we're not doing that!
Jen: They're never gonna give you a check.
Jay: No it's strictly cash or credit card. You put the credit card on file, and then that's where we take the money out (25 dollar monthly fee).
Jen: That's awesome. And the whole health interface that you've shown at Health 2.0 Spring Fling in San Diego, and now here at HIMSS, bits and pieces, the widgets that you have – and you've shown a little bit more here. You said that will be operational this month?
Jay: That'll be about 2 months.
Jen: Ok, and you're looking to open the first storefront in New York?
Jay: July 1st.
BLOGGER's NOTE: Hello Health opening changed to (soft launch) July 15th in Brooklyn.
Jen: July 1st. We're all invited right?
Jay: Yeah of course – big party. Big Health 2.0 party (Jay will be wishing he'd never joked about that...)
Jen: You're having a launch party right?
Jen: You are now!
Jay: Yeah I thought about that – it's sort of, I don't know how much you want to 'launch' something like this with a big-ass party but yeah. Definitely gonna be people there.
BLOGGER's NOTE: Contact Jay for details about the launch event.
Jen: You'll be staffing on the first day. If I walked up to Hello Health on July 1st who else would I see?
Jay: You'd see Doctor Sean Khozin he's my partner, and doctor number 2, and a couple other doctors are ready and willing, and have already said yes in New York City. And they're great. You know, it's sort of like we're self selecting for doctors, because they're frustrated. And they're like “There's got to be a better way. And I want to do my job better but I can't.”
Jen: And if they come after you, then you know that they're interested.
Jay: Yeah and that's where you start the conversation, where you kind of do the vetting process. Because you know some docs are just like “eh.” You know.
Jen: This isn't the fit for you or for Hello Health...
Jay: Yeah but I haven't really seen that. I mean I've just seen doctors that are like this is impossible. It's a viral spread I think. If this is successful, and I wholeheartedly believe that this is going to be successful, it's a viral spread amongst doctors and patients because it meets needs for both.
Jen: Will there be any nurses with you, an administrative person, or will we just walk in and see the doctor?
Jay: Yeah there's like a receptionist who's there for education and support stuff.
Jen: And can I schedule for Hello Health online?
Jay: Oh god, yeah, that's easy.
Jen: Of course. That's when it all begins...
Jay: Yeah, that's really all the consumer sees right now – people aren't interested in exploring all their health information, you know what I mean? Sometimes they will be, but people want access to their information when they need it, but they're not going to be doing much with it. But it's all there for them.
Jen: Like their 401k accounts.
Jay: Yeah. You don't go there every day and like, explore it all. I mean, who cares? You have better things to do.
Jen: Like worry about your healthcare.
Jay: Or just go hang out with your friends, like leave me alone kind of thing, you know?
Jen: Doctor when you need it.
Jen: So if I come into your office, and I see a Hello Health doctor, and it needs to advance to a specialist referral, what happens then? What are the incentives as a consumer that help me stay with you, if for instance, I have a chronic condition like diabetes but I'm young, I'm tech-savvy, I just want to see a Hello Health doctor and have that continuity, um, how does that process work? If I need to see a specialist do you refer me to one? Do I need to go out on my own and find one?
Jay: Yeah, we're actually partnering with ZocDoc, a new startup based in New York City. They're recruiting doctors to sign up for their online scheduling service. And so they have an API, and it's let you find a consulting doctor. And it's awesome, the service is awesome, the business is awesome...
Jen: I've never even heard of them.
Jay: Their API is open and we are integrating that into our platform. So if I need to send you to a dermatologist within our platform you can do a search, for who's the next dermatologist open, and I see that Dr. Smith is open tomorrow at 9:30am, ok, you're done.
Jen: Oh my gosh.
Jay: And then, those doctors are rated, so oftentimes they see “Oh, ZocDoc.com,”doctors know who their ZocDoc patients are and give them a little special treatment because they're rated online.
Jen: Just like secret shoppers in the retail industry.
Jen: Ok. Doctors of the world, please please consider opening a Hello Health branch.