Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Word of Mouth

Date: Monday, January 22, 2007
Radio Station: KSOR, Jefferson Public Radio, Ashland, OR
Program: The Jefferson Exchange

Host: Jeff Golden
Guest: David Carroll, Research Director for the California Budget Project and former director of finance policy for the California Association of Public Hospitals.
Caller: Jan

Jeff: Let's take a call from Jan in Eugene. Jan, you're on with David Carroll of the California Budget Project. Go ahead.
Jan: Yeah, hi, good morning. I just wanted to describe very briefly a doctor I know in Eugene who manages her practice in a very, very different way. She has no staff. When you come into the office, she's the only person there. She's an MD, board certified, all of that. And she has arranged her practice to keep costs down because she doesn't have staff. She wants to enjoy her medical practice. One of her key items is to keep her overhead low, just a small little office, and she passes that on to her patients. I went in there a couple of weeks ago and it was a $40 visit for just a minor item i wanted to have looked at. And she advocates this kind of medical practice. She enjoys her practice a whole lot, she's going to stay in practice because she likes it. She's not burned out because she has to turn her practice into a mill where, according to her, a typical doctor is spending 80 percent of their time over the period of a year just covering their overhead.
Jeff: Mm hmm. So she takes no insurance, she takes basically--
Jan: She does.
Jeff: She does?
Jan: She does. Yeah.
Jeff: How does she...?
Jan: But she provides a discount for people who pay cash.
Jeff: I'm puzzled how she can do this with literally no staff. Do you just walk in?
Jan: (laughs) It's radical. And she loves it.
Jeff: Do you make an appointment?
Jan: Yeah.
Jeff: You do?
Jan: And she'll spend a longer time with you because she doesn't have this huge overhead to cover. And part of it is almost somewhat preventative because patients don't have to feel like they have to rush in and rush out because they've been given, like, 12 minutes. And it's far more personal, far more sociable, and she spends more time. "So okay, is there anything else you need to tell me about?" I found it to be quite an enjoyable experience. I haven't had a medical visit --of course I don't go to the doctor very much-- that was half social and half, you know, what my condition was that I wanted her to look at.
Jeff: Are you hearing more of this, David?
David: No. What's going through my head is, hats off to this doctor. I share your sentiments. It's very hard to imagine many doctors being able to do this given all of the hoops that offices typically have to jump through in order to secure payments from insurance companies. So for doctors that rely heavily on insurance companies and that's most doctors, it's hard to imagine this being very widespread.
Jan: Well, she has been invited to speak at a series of medical conferences where she will be talking with literally thousands of doctors about what she is doing. It's seems like almost a grass roots revival of medical care where the doctor actually has a personal relationship with their patients.
Jeff: She must be a talented multitasker.
Jan: She's very high energy and very excited about what she is doing. When she started out, she actually went around Eugene and holding little small forums to ask people -- and I went to one of these, there were about 30 people -- she asked what would be the attributes of your ideal relationship with your doctor and she's put it into practice.
Jeff: Well, she sounds remarkable.
Jan: Yeah.
Jeff: Thank you very much, Jan.
Jan: Sure.

You can listen to the complete podcast here. The above starts at about 1:33 into the show.