I recently attended a healthcare investor conference, you know those gatherings where people with money – mostly private equity funds and banks – mingle with company executives who might be looking for money now or in the future. There are a lot of navy blazers. It is a little more advanced than the junior high dance because the boys are not just standing in the corner, wanting to talk to the girls but afraid to do so. That the punch bowl has been replaced by an open bar, sponsored of course by the big law firm who wants to get these folks together so they can get paid to paper the deal, might have helped.
Lots of interesting conversations take place which is what makes attending these valuable to me. Investors and executives are in it together, thinking about the industry but they come from different perspectives and ask different questions. Yet, everyone is trying to serve a real market need while also making money.
Which was ironic – serve customers AND make money – given that one of the biggest market stories of 2019 was the splashy IPOS of companies like Uber and Lyft and WeWork (IPO? Oops) that don’t make money and likely never will. It feels a lot like 1999 when we forgot that fundamentals matter, that some things might change but some laws are persistent.
Time for ‘Coan hard right turn non-sequitur.’ We haven’t had one of those in a while, have we?
At the same conference, we heard from the CEO of an organization helping primary care physicians form physician-owned ACOs. Across their organizations, they have about 5,000 physicians, manage thousands of patients, and now control about $7 billion of spending. Pretty impressive.
As he spoke, I thought about the fact that the vast majority of ALN’s clients are still predominately, if not exclusively, in a fee-for-service world and would find his view of things as foreign and strange as Eliot found ET to be. [Side note – this is a theme we are going to be exploring next year because this change is going to affect your practice in ways that you may not see coming.]
During the Q&A, I took the opportunity to ask a question on behalf of all of you FFS Neanderthal specialists: ‘As your physicians are now under value-based payments, but you rely extensively on fee-for-service physicians to deliver much of their care, what do you want and expect from them as your partner?’ Translated: What do we need to do to get your referrals?
You might have expected some new, managed care-infused answer, but he responded without hesitation: ‘Two things. Access – get our patients in quickly. Communication – tell us what you found and what you did.’
He said the same thing that primary care physicians have been saying to their specialists for decades.
How do FFS physicians play in the value-based world? Start with the fundamentals.
Some rules persist.