I blog about free markets in medical care and transparent pricing.
Have you seen this? What do you think?
A large hospital system has built another unnecessary temple here in Oklahoma. Underutilized facilities are everywhere. No matter. Now that the facility is open with all of the glitz and glass they need doctors. One that they have tried to recruit is an ear, nose and throat specialist friend of mine. He went to his mother ship hospital (a cross town temple-building rival) to ask for what are called preference cards. These are the 3X5 cards that we keep that basically are a list of what a particular surgeon requires to perform a particular case. These have become popular over the years as a surgeon needing to perform a case at a new or unfamiliar facility could have his preference card sent to the new and unfamiliar place so the staff there would know in advance exactly what he/she needed with no surprises.
This sharing of information has been honored as a courtesy between even the most vicious rivals over the years. It is simply a matter of patient safety, as finding out in the middle of an operation that all that is needed is not available, is a real problem for the patient lying on the table.
Guess what the “not for profit” mother ship hospital said? Ready? ”Those cards are proprietary.” Wow. Guess what happened next? The Surgery Center of Oklahoma provided the new facility (no friend to our organization!) this doctor’s preference cards.
Don’t worry. If you are having surgery at one of these new facilities here in Oklahoma City we at the Surgery Center of Oklahoma will do all we can to make sure that your surgeon has what they need.
G. Keith Smith, M.D.
Today the Surgery Center of Oklahoma launched its Facebook page. Being semi-new to the social media world, I find myself having difficultly wrapping my mind around the power of social media and its significance, mainly because of its limitless and expandable nature. I can honestly say, though, that I am more excited than ever about the possibilities that this move will bring.
Many more patients will find us and our affordable pricing, that exposure representing incalculable savings to families and individuals facing the bankrupting pricing schemes of our not for profit hospital friends. The more patients that find us, the less will be spent on health care. It is that simple.
At the same time, we firmly believe (and our 98% approval rating on patient surveys bears this out) that the quality of care here is unmatched. This new social media platform will give patients an opportunity if they choose to describe their experience here, and will give us an opportunity to respond to their experience and improve on what we believe is already the finest outpatient surgical experience anywhere.
It has helped me to think of this platform as a space where people can participate in discussions related to health care, free markets, transparent pricing and how all of these and other variables are related. The page will also allow a newcomer to take a look at what surgeries we do, the pricing and who the surgeons are, amongst other things. I look forward to the insights of all that follow and “like” us o and also look forward to participating in the discussions that will undoubtedly occur.
Simply type “Surgery Center of Oklahoma” in the search spot on your current Facebook account and click “Like” and join us in this exciting new venture.
G. Keith Smith, M.D.
In a recent edition of our local paper, a letter was printed by a person advocating national health care. She said, “…… a single-payer system is the only plan guaranteed to stop skyrocketing health care costs by taking the profit margin out of health care. It would reduce costs, guarantee choice and ensure that all Americans have quality, affordable health care. It would give Americans far more in savings than other options.”
I have two words. ”Atlas Shrugged.” Ok, I have a few more words…this is a blog, you know. If you take “the profit margin out of health care,” why would anyone deliver health care? ”…mandating only a single automobile manufacturer is the only way to stop the price of cars from skyrocketing by taking the profit margin out of selling cars. It would reduce costs, guarantee choice (?) and ensure that all Americans have quality, affordable personal transportation.”….sound crazy? Substitute a single home builder. Try a single telephone provider. Try….well, you get the idea. I would encourage this person to ask why no Oklahomans go to Canada for their health care. After all, they have taken the profit margin out of health care there and don’t they have choice guarantees and quality affordable care? Why are they coming to Oklahoma for their surgery? Is that really what this individual wants?
Anyone advocating a single payor system should try getting their care at the VA hospital or the Indian Health Service to get a taste of what true government medicine is all about.
G. Keith Smith, M.D.
What does this mean? This means that a company is willing to take the risk of the expense of providing health care to its employees. Rather than pay gigantic amounts of health insurance premiums, the company actually pays the bills.
We are self insured here at the Surgery Center of Oklahoma. Our employees have a health savings account. That means that the company gives them a certain amount of money at the beginning of the year and what they don’t spend they keep. The employees love this. The owners of the Surgery Center of Oklahoma love this. How does it work so well? The employees are incentivized to spend very little of the money in their account, that’s how. They are incentivized to stay as healthy as they can in order to protect the balance of their account. When a doctor says, “you need this procedure or this drug,” our employees say….ready?….”..how much does it cost?” Why would they ask such a question? Because it’s their money! Not uncommonly they will say,” well, I’m going to shop around. That sounds kind of high to me.” Not uncommonly the doctor hearing this concern over costs drops their price right there and then on the spot.
Why don’t more companies self insure? Because it’s not the usual way of doing things. Because people working in human resources departments are caught between a rock and a hard place. Anything they do that’s good for the employees makes the owners uncomfortable and mad. Anything they do that’s good for the owners of the company typically makes the employees angry. Best to do nothing or next to nothing. Find a comfortable groove and keep your head down. Fight change at every turn.
This may change. Health insurance companies have played this game with big hospitals for far too long. ”It is simply not sustainable,” as one health insurance company executive told me recently. I think we will see more and more self insured companies. They will be shopping for quality and transparent pricing. They will be looking for ways to incentivize their employees to feel ownership in the health plan. They will cease doing business with the insurance companies that have raked them over the coals for years. Fewer and fewer of their employees will go to the big hospitals for their care. The Surgery Center of Oklahoma will be in a hiring frenzy due to the demand for our affordable high quality of care.
The sooner the better.
G. Keith Smith, M.D.