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Docs Say Goodbye to Bureaucracy, Hello Health

 |  By HealthLeaders Media Staff  
   August 19, 2009

The Brooklyn Hello Health office is operating a cash-based, concierge practice, since most insurers do not pay physicians for the phone, e-mail, video chat, or instant messaging services that they offer. A concierge practice allows patients to pay for this service themselves, and many patients are more than happy to do so for the added convenience of being able to access their healthcare provider. The Brooklyn practice does not accept insurance, but they will provide paperwork for patients who want to submit claims for reimbursement.

Moore says that Hello Health is one of the few venues where practices are able to completely cut loose of all the rules and impediments, allowing them to perform e-care when it makes sense because they don't need to worry about receiving reimbursement from an insurer.

Initially, Moore expressed concern that some patients may skimp on vaccines, tests, and the like if they participated in a cash-only practice. "There are a lot of people who think that if you care about healthcare, then you'll get out your wallet and pay for it," he says. "I don't think that applies to everyone."

His concern was assuaged when he learned that the platform allows physicians to determine their own price structure and payment policies. Even physicians who cater to vulnerable populations such as the uninsured, unemployed, or underserved can opt to charge as little as $25 per transaction.

"There are wonderful programs that are cash-based and accessible to a huge slot of the population," says Moore. "What I was initially interpreting as concierge, breaks open to a pretty full practice model. Those who can afford it can be a very large slot of the population depending on how you set up the pricing."

According to Moore, the company has plans to incorporate back-end billing into the platform in the future so that practices can use the platform to bill insurance companies.

A practice platform for physician "entrepreneurs"
According to Khozin, many physicians from across the country have contacted Hello Health to express an interest in using the platform for their practices. It has selected approximately 20 physicians to become part of their beta test.

"We're starting a process to educate and empower other doctors to start using the platform so they can lower their overhead and start practicing medicine in a more meaningful way," he says. "Right now, not only are patients unhappy, but a lot of doctors are unhappy. Their overhead is so high, they have to see 30 to 40 patients a day to stay afloat."

Khozin says if physicians can lower their overhead, cut down on the number of unnecessary visits, and conduct virtual visits instead, then they can have more meaningful interactions with patients and, as a result, operate a sustainable medical practice.

"They can lower their overhead, better communicate with patients, and generate more revenue," he says.

Physicians interested in the platform generally have an entrepreneurial spirit, says Khozin. The platform appeals to physicians who want to build stronger relationships with their patients to deliver effective care—something most physicians want but find difficult to achieve due to the administrative work they must complete to receive reimbursement from third parties.

"This allows a viable way of actually running a practice and making a living," says Khozin. "The traditional way has become very abrasive."

Cynthia Johnson is the editor of Medicine On The 'Net, a monthly newsletter from HealthLeaders Media.

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