Removing health insurance ignites a new approach to physician practice management.
Brian E. Hill, MD, wants to change the world of healthcare. The Atlanta urologist followed his childhood dream to become a physician, but once he began practicing medicine, found himself disheartened about how the landscape had changed.
He embarked on a quest to study the U.S. healthcare system and wrote a book, Stop the Noise: A Physician's Quest to Silence the Politics of Health Care Reform. The book led to speaking engagements, media exposure, and opportunities to testify before Congress, as well as connections with healthcare innovators and thought leaders.
Inspired by that journey, he's become an innovator himself, joining forces with three other like-minded individuals to found HIPnation, an Atlanta physician practice management company that offers a novel approach to the practice of medicine. Operating through a membership model, HIPnation removes health insurance from the physician-patient equation and provides patients 24/7 access to their primary care physician.
Dr. Hill shared some of his unique perspectives with HealthLeaders about the flaws with our health system and why he feels industry innovation is essential.
This transcript has been edited for brevity and clarity.
HealthLeaders: What is the primary reason our healthcare system doesn't work?
Dr. Hill: The negative impact of insurance drives everybody's cost up and distracts physicians from their patients.
HL: What other dynamics are at play?
Dr. Hill: This March, I went to the HIMSS conference in Las Vegas. I walked around, and [more than] 90% of the technology [exhibited] was all about revenue cycle management. All of this money is going towards the business side of the industry. Imagine if we put all of those financial resources, brain power, and money toward creating great tools to allow doctors to be better doctors and patients to better interact and intersect with their physicians? That would be remarkable.
HL: Tell me about the path that led you to want to change our healthcare system.
Dr. Hill: I love medicine, and I'm a person who feels very blessed to be a physician. When I first came out of residency, I noticed something was really wrong with the way healthcare was being delivered. So I started reading and learning about how our healthcare system works, how it doesn't work, and researched the economics of healthcare and econometrics about what drives human behavior and human changes.
I did this from the perspective of a physician noting symptoms—high costs, access to care, and disparities in care. But there's a disease underlying those symptoms. That's what we've got to fix because medicine is not about treating symptoms; it's about finding disease.
[About four years ago he sat down with three others who became HIPnation's founders and said], "Let's take everything that we've learned and understand about healthcare and remake our healthcare system in a way that actually makes sense, that puts the patient at the center, that allows our physicians to just provide great care to patients and focus upon them." It's a big, hairy audacious goal.
HL: What do you say to physicians who are fed up with the current state of medicine?
Dr. Hill: I tell them, "I want to do two things with you as a physician: One, I want to let you be a doctor again and not a coder; not a biller or somebody who has to respond to an insurance company request in order to do something that you think is right. Two, I want you to go out and just be a great doctor and manage care for your patients." [We work with] doctors who were called into medicine to love and care for people. That's why we go into medicine. It's why we spend all that time in training. We want to give doctors that nirvana.
We need to make sure that healthcare is meeting that goal, and right now it's being burdened by too many things. We want to get rid of those things to allow medicine to get back to the purity of what it was supposed to be: providing great care to people. We believe we're creating a pathway to do that.
Mandy Roth is the innovations editor at HealthLeaders.