Speaking at the National Business Coalition on Health’s annual conference Tuesday in Washington, D.C., Sandeep Acharya asked attendees to close their eyes and think of their last visit with their primary care physician. “Do the words efficient and innovative come to mind?” asked Acharya, vice president of strategy and new business at One Medical Group.

Most likely not. The doctor probably delivered great care, he said, but Acharya asked the audience if all of their questions were answered during the appointment. How long was the wait?

Primary care physicians aren’t at fault. Rather, Acharya said, the blame should be put on the health care system, which rewards procedures. Since primary care doctors don’t conduct procedures, they must rely on seeing a high volume of patients to pay the bills. America’s primary care industry has a “broken” business model, Acharya said, and One Medical is seeking to repair it. “Fixing the health care system starts with redefining primary care,” he said.

That means focusing on hospitality — eliminating long waits, giving patients plenty of time to ask the doctor questions and responding to patients quickly via email. “We believe that you need to reinvest in the whole layer, front to back,” Acharya said.

Offering more primary care leads to lower costs, Acharya said. For example, someone with access to primary care is less likely to make a costly trip to the emergency room for a non-emergency.

The damage isn’t limited to patients, Acharya said, doctors are also being affected. The current unsustainable path primary care is on is pushing medical students to other specialties, he said, and the industry is expected to have a shortage of 50,000 primary care physicians by 2025.

Streamlining health care

Meanwhile, making sense of health care data generated by these doctor visits isn’t easy — especially for the average employer who doesn’t have an analytics background.

Artemis, based in New York City, aims to help employers save money by locating runaway costs. The health tech company’s CEO, Grant Gordon, described Artemis’ data platform Tuesday at the NBCH conference.

The tool allows an employer to see everything from company statistics to spending trends, and it has an over-spending model to show areas where money could have been saved.

Artemis, which focuses on self-insured employers, interviewed more than 75 benefits teams over the past year in order to make it as easy as possible for employers to diagnose problems. “We’re fixing health care,” Gordon said.

Oscar Health Insurance is also using technology to streamline health care. The New York City-based health insurance company’s website is what sets it apart, said co-founder Mario Schlosser. The site offers telemedicine consultations with doctors and keeps a record of what the doctor said. It can also send a doctor a patient’s medical history, Schlosser said. If a person needs to fill a prescription, he said, the site shows where the nearest pharmacy is in relation to a person’s address.

A person can search for a doctor using the site, Schlosser said, and they don’t need to know specific medical terminology. For example, he said, someone can search for “my nose might be broken,” and a list of possible nose injuries and disorders will appear.

Options of where someone can receive medical care and an estimate of cost are also provided, as well as a customer service team that can help with such things as finding a specialized doctor.

Oscar, which currently operates on New York and New Jersey’s exchanges, plans to join the group marketplace in those states in the next year or so, Schlosser said, and the company also wants to expand to other states like Texas and California. 

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