By Jay Parkinson | Founder & CEO at Sherpaa
June 20, 2017 – For the last couple thousand years, doctors have used the same tool to treat their patients— an appointment, a physical room, a conversation, and a payment for the time. Communication and problem-solving has happened exclusively in the exam room. The average person age 18–65 visits the doctor 2.7 times a year and the average visit is ~10 minutes for a total of 27 minutes of doctor communication and problem-solving per year. Because it’s an oral conversation, full of anxiety and jargon, patients forget ~85% of the conversation. That’s ~4 minutes of memorable education/conversation per year. This is Primary Care 1.0. Primary Care 2.0 is today’s “innovative” versions of value-based primary care 1.0 designed to fit a square peg into a round hole. It’s the same office-based primary care 1.0 trying to fit itself into an insurance payment model that transfers risks away from insurance companies and onto primary care doctor groups. Primary Care 2.0 also includes the Direct Primary Care model which can best be described as concierge medicine-lite. It deifies the old-fashioned doctor-patient relationship and offers consumers that one-on-one relationship for a fixed cost. It’s not trying to solve the “how do we scale primary care?” problem. It’s saying the old-fashioned doctor patient relationship is the best tool out there and we’re just gonna double down on it and sell that same couple thousand year old tool at a premium.
Tools solve problems. Primary care 1.0 and 2.0 are tools to solve a problem. Are these the best tools we can imagine to deliver care?
Primary Care 3.0 leapfrogs today’s old-fashioned primary care out of necessity and pressure placed on the industry to meet today’s consumers’ expectations. It also exists simply because it can. Technology like machine learning and mobile-first services exist in other industries and there are a few in healthcare who can’t stand sitting by idly and ignoring what these tools can do for our nation’s health. We’re seeing this kernel in services like TelaDoc, Lemonaid, Sherpaa, Nurx, SteadyMD, and a few others. But what is Primary Care 3.0 and why should it exist?
Consumers don’t want Primary Care 1.0
In this 18–65 year demographic, 50% of people say they don’t have a primary care doctor. And, of that cohort, 50% say they don’t want a primary care doctor. Two conclusions can be drawn from this:
- Half of working age Americans do not value the tool given to them enough to establish a meaningful connection/relationship.
- Twenty five percent of working age Americans want a transaction, not a relationship. They just want their problem solved as quickly, as easily, and as affordably as possible.