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Can Startups Save Primary Care?

By ANDY MYCHKOVSKY

Today, primary care is considered the bee’s knees of value-based care delivery. Instead of being viewed as the punter of the football team, the primary care physician (PCP) has become the quarterback of the patient’s care team, calling plays for both clinical and social services. The entire concept of the accountable care organization (ACO) or patient-centered medical home (PCMH) crumbles without financially- and clinically-aligned PCPs. This sea change has resulted in rapid employment or alignment to health systems, as well as a surge in venture capital being invested into the primary care space.

Before we get too far in the weeds, let’s first begin with the definition of primary care. The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) defines a primary care physician as a specialist typically trained in Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, or Pediatrics. Some women do use their OB/GYN as their PCP, but these specialists are not traditionally considered PCPs. Now if you’ve gone to your local PCP and noticed that your care provider is not wearing a white coat with the “MD” or “DO” credentials, you are either receiving treatment from a hipster physician, nurse practitioner (NP), or physician assistant (PA). Two of the three professionals are trained in family medicine and can provide primary care services under the responsibility of an associated PCP. At least one of the three has a beard.

The crazy thing is, despite the industries heightened focus on the importance of PCPs, we’re still expecting a shortage of primary care providers. In April 2019, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) released a report estimating a shortage of between 21,100 and 55,200 PCPs by 2032. Given we just passed 2020, this not that far off. The primary reason for the shortage is the growing and aging population. Thanks mom and dad. Digging into the numbers will really knock your socks off, with the U.S. Census estimating that individuals over the age of 65 will increase 48% over that same time period. Like a double-edged sword, the issue is not just on the patient demand side though. One-third of all currently active doctors will be older than 65 in the next decade and could begin to retire. Many of these individuals are independent PCPs who have resisted employment by large health systems.

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Health in 2 Point 00, Episode 108 | OneMedical IPO, Hinge Health, & Humana

Today on Health in 2 Point 00, we’re starting out with a riddle: what’s the similarity between the 49ers Super Bowl performance and digital health? Find out on Episode 108, where Jess and I discuss other news in health tech starting off with another IPO, OneMedical. Now worth more than Livongo at $2.7 billion, this went better than anyone could’ve expected. Hinge Health raises $90 million in a Series C round, offering physical therapy at home and tapping into the loads of waste that goes towards back surgeries. Finally, Humana partners with a private equity company to expand primary care centers, what is the deal with this? —Matthew Holt

Will One Medical justify $40m in venture funding?

One Medical is a San Francisco-based “concierge lite” primary care service. I happen to know it pretty well because I’m a patient there and have known CEO Tom Lee and given free (probably unwanted) consulting to COO Sharon Knight since before the NY Times made them famous.  So yesterday’s news that they’ve raised another $20m (making their total $46m) gave me pause. Not because I don’t think my doctor (Andrew Diamond) isn’t fantastic. He is. Plus when you go to an appointment–which really can be booked same or next day online–you get a full half an hour, it really runs on time and the office environment is fabulous. Ian Morrison used to tell us that quality in health care was being in a waiting room with people richer than you. At One Medical everyone is better looking than you (well, than me anyway!).

The added cost for this? Only about $150 a year. Oh and that added cost is actually voluntary, as Tom Lee pointed out in an email last year after local IPA Brown & Toland complained. Yes that fee gets you rapidly answered emails, online prescriptions, same day appointments and way more. So what’s the catch? There doesn’t seem to be one. This concerns me for several reasons:Continue reading…

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