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Columnist Michael Levin: Finding Opportunity Amidst Healthcare Chaos - Concierge Medicine PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Weeks   

Columnist Michael Levin: Finding Opportunity for Integrative Medicine Amidst Healthcare Chaos - The Concierge Model

Healthcare business strategist and Integrator columnist Michael Levin was one of the earliest players in the integrative health field who sought to focus attention on the importance of establishing the business case for integration and inclusion. With a background as an executive in both Pharma and natural products companies, Levin's early focus was on pharmacy substitution strategies. Business models were needed to require payers to explore. Here Levin speaks to another sort of business model, this time extolling a direction that is outside the box of the payment system. 


Finding Opportunity Amidst Healthcare Chaos - Concierge Medicine

Michael D. Levin

Healthcare Business Strategies
Clackamas Oregon, December, 2012

Michael Levin, Health Business Strategies
The trends in concierge medicine are gaining ground rapidly, as recently reported in Business Week. Folks are seeking alternatives to traditional care in an effort to improve the quality of their lives. Physicians are dropping out from the insurance game in order to better do what they studied to do: heal patients. 

As a healthcare strategist, I see emerging opportunity for integrative medicine to align with these medical mavericks to deliver integrative care and improve patients' lives.

As with all early expressions of a highly fragmented, consolidating industry, we increasingly see venture capital funding these maverick ventures. These fledgling firms are now beginning to compete on subscription price and service offerings. Looking over the horizon, competition is sure to increase, driving down subscription costs and amping up competition on value-add service offerings.
I've seen it before. It'll happen again.

The economic incentive for primary care providers [to explore this option] is compelling. Instead of a median salary of $160K, the average salary reportedly ranges from $150-300K, with the added bonus of giving doctors sufficient time necessary to spend with their patients. In an effort to serve, these practices are now offering a variety of services, including unlimited home visits and personalized pharmacy delivery services. Wow.

The earliest adopters are now complaining about reducing annual subscription prices. Competition is intensifying on both price and service.  This is, in my view, a perfect opportunity for integrative medicine practitioners to align with these medical mavericks in order to deliver truly integrative care. If done well, with longitudinal outcomes documented, there is the promise of being positioned to offer this care model to self-insured employers.

I will set aside the ethical argument of, "gee, shouldn't this be available to everyone, instead of only that small fraction of those who can afford such medical luxury? What about the 99%?" As a practical matter, I would respectfully argue that our constituents are best served if we can prove a positive impact on healthcare outcomes and costs by whatever means possible. That is our challenge. Here is another emerging opportunity to prove the talk we claim we walk.

ImageSome of those mavericks interviewed for this article speak of "holistic care". Unless I'm totally missing something, this appears to be s new consumer-driven healthcare opportunity in which integrative medicine can flex it's muscle.  Mind-body, nutritional intervention, chiropractic, naturopathic medicine, nutrigeonomics, massage therapy, oriental medicine, executive health clubs - all appear to have an opportunity to leverage from this growing paradigm amidst our national healthcare crisis.

If we want to improve the quality of life while reducing healthcare costs, doesn't this model deserve an aggressive look?

Wishing all a joyous, healthy Holiday season and a successful 2013!

: Setting aside ethical arguments, as Levin does here, is always worth a second and hard look, given how much the world seems mostly to be powered by setting aside ethical arguments. I find myself, however, quite aligned with Levin on this one, at this time. Yes,
practically speaking,"constituents are best served if we can prove a positive impact on healthcare outcomes and costs by whatever means possible." Perhaps there is a parallel to the zoo argument - that it's the close-up experience of animals in captivity that can stimulate the environmental passions to preserve native habitat. Here, if one needs an ethical argument, opening doors to those who can afford concierge integrative medicine and health can open the minds of some, at least, of the beneficiaries to the justice in ensuring such access is spread more broadly.

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