Following up on Andrea’s post yesterday about the number of un/underinsured people in the US, the web (or some corner of it) has been buzzing lately about Jay Parkinson. He’s an MD who’s set up a house call practice in Brooklyn aimed at uninsured younger adults. (He specifically mentions that he doesn’t have interest in treating older people with chronic diseases.) The practice works on a retainer model: patients pay $500 a year, for which they get two in person visits (at home, work or wherever) and unlimited “e-visits.” Parkinson also says he he will help patients find additional care (MRIs, prescription meds, etc.) for the lowest prices.
Parkinson’s practice has been met by skepticism, both snarky and serious. Said the president of the American Academy of Family Physicians* to the NY Post about Parkinson, “I would be wary of anything diagnosed solely over the Internet … video and e-mail should be a tool, not a primary driver.” And at the Wall Street Journal’s Health Blog, which has an interview with Parkinson, one commenter said, “A niche play. A cherrypicker too. Runny noses and lots of email chat about vitamins. Wake up with an acute abdomen and he’ll pass you to someone willing to get his or her hands dirty.” Parkinson responds to these criticisms in the comment thread and it’s worth a read.
Maybe the most interesting part of Parkinson’s plan is his pledge to help patients become better consumers of health care. Consumer directed medicine has been getting a lot of attention lately as a means of lowering costs. But people who need medical care aren’t exactly in the best state of mind to go shopping around for the best quality and price. Parkinson promises to help people navigate that market. He’s even looking to become an insurance agent so he can help patients find the best health plan if they decide that’s what they need.
*corrected 2007-9-28 to include full name of the AAFP