Many of you know I am passionate about the health of the leader. The premise I use is pretty basic… You have to be present to lead. Leaders have to show up. If they don’t, followers will drift from your vision. As a leader, your health matters. If you don’t take care of yourself, who will? And what message does this send to those who follow you?
As a person who is a cancer survivor, (cancer free for the past 3 years), I can attest to the fact that two of the greatest gifts in life are health and time. Maybe that is why I am willing to pay more for my healthcare.
You read that last sentence right. I choose to pay more for my health care than I have to.
When my wife and I moved to the Orlando area around 4 years ago, I made the choice to join a concierge medical practice.
For those of you not familiar with the concept, concierge medicine is a fancy term for medical membership. The patient pays a monthly fee to join a physician practice, similar to a subscription like Netflix!
My wife and I pay $3000 per year to be a member of my doctor's practice. This is over and above the $1,200 per month we pay for traditional, high deductible health insurance for the two of us. A lot of money, you might say. But, in my opinion, it is totally worth it! Sure, it is much more than my monthly Netflix membership, but I get so much more than a movie from it!
I can hear you asking, "Scott, why would you choose to pay so much money to be a part of a physician practice?"
I want quality care, and I don’t think you get that in a 5-minute office visit that you often have to sit and wait over an hour to occur. As a leader, our time is precious. I understand the typical physician has no idea what is behind the door when they walk in, and some people are really sick. But come on, every time I go to the office? This type of experience is not the exception, it is the rule.
According to Dr. Caleb Gardner, a physician and resident at Cambridge Hospital in Massachusetts, and Dr. John Levinson, a cardiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, primary care appointments are now as short as five minutes, and the physician must spend much of that time typing rather than attending to the patient and performing a physical examination.
In order for a physician to make a living, they must see a certain number of patients each day, in a certain amount of time. My understanding is that it is a numbers game. The more patience you can see in the fewest amount of time, the more money you make. Not really a tough business model to understand. It seems similar to McDonalds to me: the more hamburgers sold, the more profit.
More volume equals more profit, except seeing my doctor should not be like visiting a fast food restaurant. As a leader of people, neither should yours. Your health is too important. The algorithms your doctor needs to go through to accurately make a diagnosis are too difficult to do in 1/12th of an hour.
My reasoning is fairly simple…I want both quality and quantity of care for my health.
I never bought the quality versus quantity time argument when I was raising my kids. There is no substitute for quantity of time. Time and health are not replaceable in this life. I can make more money, but once my health goes downhill making more money is really hard. So I pay $4.15 ($8.30 for both myself and my wife) a day so that I can get both quality and quantity care from my physician. Interestingly, Kim and I spent over $8 at Starbucks the other day. Go figure.
How It Works
In exchange for the yearly membership fee, my doctor promises to keep his practice to a small number of patients, almost one-third the size of a standard family practice physician. This membership allows my doctor to spend more time doing what he loves to do, practice medicine.
My appointment time is one hour in length. I have never spent less than 40 minutes going over my history, labs, sonograms, or whatever other data that has been collected. For me, these discussions are highly motivational. I leave my appointment energized about what I am doing to stay healthy, not depressed about my problems. I see my concierge medicine physician as my “health coach." His job is to give me advice on how I can stay in this game of life with both quality and quantity. His perspective is that I can live a long, full, active, and healthy life, not that I am a disease waiting to happen. I love the optimistic outlook!
I also have my doctors email address and cell phone number. How about you?
This is a great comfort to me, as like many of you, I travel a lot. It is really nice to know that if I get sick on the road all I have to do is email or call. To date I have not had to use his cell phone (for this I am thankful), but when I email I get a response usually within an hour or two.
These thoughts are perhaps best summed up in the article I referenced above by Dr. Gardner and Dr. Levinson, who say that medicine is losing its humanity in favor of market efficiency. When it comes to my personal health, I am not willing to make that trade-off. How about you?
Call to Action
Leaders, this leaning toward market efficiency doesn’t have to define you. Hey, if you like your doctor and you like how you are treated, then in the wise words of one of my professors in grad school, Dr. Sharon Drury, “Keep On Keepin’ On." No change required. As long as you are meeting your personal health goals (you do have them, don’t you?), then all is well.
However, if you're sick of the weight of the “efficient” health system, then for the price of a Starbucks coffee per day, you have an out.
Is concierge medicine right for everyone? Maybe not. The answer to that question is above my pay grade. If you don’t prioritize your health, why spend your hard earned money in this way?
I had a mentor tell me one time, “Show me your checkbook record and I will show you what you prioritize in life." For me, it really isn’t that hard of a decision, and it is a check worth writing.
You lead, you choose, but you can’t lead if you can’t show up.