The Telehealth Needle Has Moved! Who would have thought?
Not that long ago I was sitting in a medical executive meeting discussing whether or not we should add telehealth services to our multi-specialty group. The overwhelming majority of physicians felt that telemedicine was not only a bad idea, but it would never amount to a legitimate means to provide care for our patients. In fact, one of the administrators tested out one of the larger, insurance-connected platforms, for an urgent care type of visit, and presented her experience to the group. She portrayed the telehealth provider as a disinterested, "fly-by-the-night" physician who provided little value and reflexively referred her to an ER for further testing. So, with that, the group elected to table the idea of introducing telemedicine to our providers and our patients.
I came away from that meeting shaking my head. I just had a hunch that the future of medical care was going to move online. So it did not take long before I starting exploring telemedicine options on my own. There were a few platforms around, but most of the services were "one-off" and the paid "per visit". At the same time, I saw a trend in physicians providing, and patients seeking, direct care. The light bulb went off! Why not merge telemedicine with direct care? Thus, Cirrus Medical Network was born.
Let me start off by saying that I started this venture as a primary care physician seeking to fill a void in health care delivery, especially on the primary care front. I was frustrated with such things as the following:
- the daily grind in the office
- patients complaining about rising insurance premiums (surely that extra revenue the insurance companies were collecting was not flowing into the pockets of the physicians??)
- realizing the silliness of "requiring patients to make an appointment or be seen" for many issues that could be addressed virtually. (Think about that one next time you're in the office seeing a patient for a med refill, a diabetic/HTN/Hyperlipidemia follow-up, depression, and so on.)
- increasing time on the computer clicking boxes for Meaningful Use, Medical Home, PQRI, MIPS/MACRA, and so-on.
Historically, payors have been slow to compensate for virtual visits. The recent COVID-19 pandemic may change the telemedicine reimbursement landscape, however insurance companies will still want providers to document for coding purposes, rather than genuine patient care. Merging direct/concierge care with telehealth makes more sense now than ever. The adoption of telehealth needle has been moved forward. With today's technology, it is entirely reasonable to manage a whole lot of primary care issues via telehealth. And judging by my growing online practice, the public is willing to pay for it.
If you think about it, it's a win-win-lose situation:
- Win - Patient wins by saving time and money, maintains direct contact with their physician -- avoids all the hassles of insurance/office-based practice
- Win - Doctor wins by getting back to practicing real medicine. Just YOU and the PATIENT. Forget about MIPS/MACRA, PCMH, PQRI, and all of that! Get the peace of mind knowing you will be reimbursed monthly just for being available online or phone for your own panel of patients.
- Lose - The insurance companies and the largely bloated corporate hospital and health network employers. Do we care? No, not really. Way too many middlemen. Besides, we are doctors. We don't need a boss.
There are several industries and professions now offering services online or in the "cloud", including Legalzoom.com (retain an attorney for a monthly fee), Wealthfront.com (financial services in the cloud), education, many others. Large medical establishments are offering telemedicine solutions for their beneficiaries. Since I launched Cirrus Medical Network back in 2014, several telehealth companies have emerged. Most of our competitors are set up for one-off niche or urgent care types of services, with providers working shifts.
Cirrus Medical Network (CirrusMED) takes a slightly different approach than all of those. That is, we provide continuity of care.
With continuity, comes trust. Not to mention, lower liability. Of course, we want quality physicians who understand their limits and the limits of telemedicine. Are you a forward-thinking physician who embraces technology? Then Cirrus MED may be right up your alley.
I have grown a thriving virtual practice, and I can tell you that my patients LOVE IT! With monthly primary care membership plans as low as $39/mo (with the Annual Virtual DPC Plan), they perceive value in everything that CirrusMED offers: the "concierge" feel, the lack of "hassle factor", and the building of a "relationship" online and over time that is not available elsewhere. It's like they have that "VIP" physician without paying the hefty dues. And you, the physician who may not want to give up their established office practice, can scale up your online practice as much or as little as you'd like. Again...it's a win-win situation!
As you can tell, I'm passionate about this. I am excited to have other physicians join me in the early stages of this growing company. I really want our affiliate physicians to be compensated fairly and to reap the even greater reward of "autonomy of practice".
Lastly, I believe it is important to assure our patients that our physicians not only have the right mindset for online concierge care but the right qualifications. A highly-vetted physician network will be key to our success.
So, before we move forward with on-boarding and credentialing, our team will have you schedule a quick interview. I know you are busy, so we will keep it brief and to the point...unless you feel like chatting 🙂
Christopher Highley D.O.
ps. Feel free to share this email with any physicians you may know that might be interested in working with Cirrus Medical Network. They may apply here.
pss. We are looking to add specialists to the platform with our soon to be launched upgrade. We are especially excited to share the online concierge experience with our specialist colleagues. In addition to consumer/patient self-referral demand, our very own primary care physicians are looking to refer their patients to a specialist for either one-time consultations or on a retainer basis.
Physician Affiliate FAQ's. https://cirrusmedicalnetwork.com/doctor-faq/