Encore! EP351: Everybody in the Healthcare Industry Getting Up in Everyone Else’s Business, With Eric Bricker, MD
Relentless Health Value™November 16, 202234:4947.82 MB

Encore! EP351: Everybody in the Healthcare Industry Getting Up in Everyone Else’s Business, With Eric Bricker, MD

This episode was one of the most popular episodes in the past 12 months. Since it aired, there was a show with Kevin Schulman, MD (EP366), that added some context, which I would recommend, and also one with David Muhlestein, PhD, JD (EP364). Those two shows and this one are a good three-pack.

And hey, here’s something new that we’re going to try out. Coming up in December, Dr. Bricker and I will host a smallish virtual chat to discuss the topics covered in this episode. It will be a conversation, not a presentation, so therefore the “why” behind the “smallish.” If you are kinda thinking this is something that you’d like to do, go to our Web site and scroll down to the “Join the Relentless Tribe.” When we get our act together, we’ll send out the details for how to sign up in a future email. I’m thinking it will be very cool to get a chance for the great people who support our show enough to actually get a weekly email to talk amongst ourselves!

In this healthcare podcast, I’m speaking with Eric Bricker, MD, about how so many entities in healthcare are getting up in other people’s business and swimming in other people’s traditional lanes. We kick off the conversation talking about the payer, PBM, and hospital system horizontal consolidation that has transpired over the past decades (that’s plural). Horizontal consolidation is pretty much the easiest way to decimate all competition in your own swim lane so that you can charge more and not worry so much about patient/customer/member experience because the patients/customers/members have no better alternative. They effectively have nowhere, or few other places at best, to go if they leave you.

So, what’s the impact of horizontal consolidation? Commercial insurance costs have gone up 4x the rate of other benchmark goods and services.

Let’s spend a moment, shall we, on the human impact of all this extreme consolidation. The impact is your sister, your neighbor, your son, your friend. So many feel so much pressure financially in our country today because of healthcare costs. Even families earning significantly more than median household income are forgoing care because of costs. This was in a recent paper. (The authors are Alyce S. Adams, Raymond Kluender, Neale Mahoney, Jinglin Wang, Francis Wong, and Wesley Yin.)

But the direct observable financial toxicity resulting from high healthcare patient costs is really only the tip of the iceberg here. As Dave Chase from Health Rosetta has said a million times already, high healthcare costs have a multitude of effects on employers, big and small. One big one is, if healthcare costs more, then there’s less money for salaries. Dave, citing lots of evidence, has long attributed wage stagnation in this country to accelerating healthcare costs, which became even more rampant during periods of industry consolidation. Dave Chase leads Health Rosetta, by the way.

Here’s another human toxicity: Listen to episode 337 with Oliva Webb on the impact on her life as a result of the undeniably and unquestionably common non-excellent treatment by the PBMs and SPPs that she has to deal with. Because, as Dr. Bricker also says, no competition means basically not a whole lot of concern about patient experience. Why should a for-profit business spend money to improve something when there’s nothing really to be gained for them financially to do so? I mean, the best a patient can do most of the time is hop from the frying pan into the fire. That’s what happens when there’s no competition or no real competition. Also consider the burned-out clinicians who have to get stuck in the middle of this nobody-really-cares-at-the-monopoly customer service paperwork quagmire.

By the way, here’s a sidebar that might come as a surprise to some people, but please take this in the spirit with which it’s intended. All of us innovators and lifelong learners, we want to update our beliefs when the facts show us an updated conclusion. So, I have learned that all of this consolidation was going on long before the ACA (Affordable Care Act). My point here is to please look into this well-documented trend line before reflexively tweeting that the ACA drove consolidation. Dr. Bricker and others like Dr. Mai Pham have told me that, in their opinion, low interest rates, cheap debt, and a desire to eliminate competition are wildly powerful drivers of consolidation.

Anyway, about eight minutes into the interview with Dr. Bricker, if you’re one of the ones who knows all you care to know about horizontal consolidation, we get into vertical integration, vertical consolidation—and this is where things get interesting. And when I say interesting, I mean it in a “we live in interesting times” kind of way.

The vertical consolidation conversation segues into whose swim lane that the digital health and other innovators or, dare I say, disrupters are diving into and whose lunch they are aiming to eat.

Dr. Bricker probably needs no introduction. He is the force behind AHealthcareZ, which you can find online, on Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn. He has worked as a clinician, in healthcare finance. If that weren’t enough, he’s also been an entrepreneur—a very successful entrepreneur, I might add. He started one of the first healthcare navigation firms.

You can connect with Dr. Bricker on Twitter at @DrEricB and on LinkedIn.

 

Eric Bricker, MD, is an internal medicine physician and former cofounder and chief medical officer of Compass Professional Health Services. Compass is a healthcare navigation service that grew to 2000+ clients, including T-Mobile, Southwest Airlines, and Chili’s/Maggiano’s restaurants. Compass was acquired by Alight Solutions in July 2018. Alight is a 10,000-person employee benefits and HR outsourcing company that separated from Aon in 2017.

Dr. Bricker has since started AHealthcareZ.com, with 300+ healthcare finance videos with approximately 120,000 views per month across all platforms. In 2022, he became medical director of SimplePay Health, an alternative health plan that empowers employees with high-quality care, concierge support, and easily understood payment. He is also the author of Healthcare Money Campfire Stories.

 

05:50 What is this “megatrend” happening in healthcare right now?

07:11 How has consolidation changed the healthcare landscape?

09:41 What is vertical integration within healthcare?

11:07 Why doesn’t inorganic growth benefit patients?

12:52 “What is best for the patient does not necessarily make the most money.”

14:02 “It’s not that it’s above the law … it is just intentionally obscured.”

18:16 “Healthcare is glacial. It is slow.”

22:36 “The largest source of healthcare costs is hospitals.”

25:00 EP330 with John Marchica.

28:20 “What have the historical priorities been of the administrators of those hospitals?”

28:35 “Every hospital CFO knows that they need sick people.”

29:21 EP343 with David Carmouche, MD.

30:01 “The payment change has to come first.”

31:19 “The money wins.”

33:16 “You’ve got to put the financial incentives in place … to make people actually behave the way that they should.”

 

You can connect with Dr. Bricker on Twitter at @DrEricB and on LinkedIn.

 

@DrEricB discusses #healthcare’s changing landscape on our #healthcarepodcast. #podcast #digitalhealth

What is this “megatrend” happening in healthcare right now? @DrEricB discusses #healthcare’s changing landscape on our #healthcarepodcast. #podcast #digitalhealth

How has consolidation changed the healthcare landscape? @DrEricB discusses #healthcare’s changing landscape on our #healthcarepodcast. #podcast #digitalhealth

What is vertical integration within healthcare? @DrEricB discusses #healthcare’s changing landscape on our #healthcarepodcast. #podcast #digitalhealth

Why doesn’t inorganic growth benefit patients? @DrEricB discusses #healthcare’s changing landscape on our #healthcarepodcast. #podcast #digitalhealth

“What is best for the patient does not necessarily make the most money.” @DrEricB discusses #healthcare’s changing landscape on our #healthcarepodcast. #podcast #digitalhealth

“It’s not that it’s above the law … it is just intentionally obscured.” @DrEricB discusses #healthcare’s changing landscape on our #healthcarepodcast. #podcast #digitalhealth

“Healthcare is glacial. It is slow.” @DrEricB discusses #healthcare’s changing landscape on our #healthcarepodcast. #podcast #digitalhealth

“The largest source of healthcare costs is hospitals.” @DrEricB discusses #healthcare’s changing landscape on our #healthcarepodcast. #podcast #digitalhealth

“What have the historical priorities been of the administrators of those hospitals?” @DrEricB discusses #healthcare’s changing landscape on our #healthcarepodcast. #podcast #digitalhealth

“Every hospital CFO knows that they need sick people.” @DrEricB discusses #healthcare’s changing landscape on our #healthcarepodcast. #podcast #digitalhealth

“The payment change has to come first.” @DrEricB discusses #healthcare’s changing landscape on our #healthcarepodcast. #podcast #digitalhealth

“The money wins.” @DrEricB discusses #healthcare’s changing landscape on our #healthcarepodcast. #podcast #digitalhealth

“You’ve got to put the financial incentives in place … to make people actually behave the way that they should.” @DrEricB discusses #healthcare’s changing landscape on our #healthcarepodcast. #podcast #digitalhealth

 

Recent past interviews:

Click a guest’s name for their latest RHV episode!

Al Lewis, Dan Mendelson, Wendell PotterBrian Klepper (Encore! EP335)Dr Aaron Mitchell (EP382)Karen RootMark MillerAJ LoiaconoJosh LaRosaStacey Richter (INBW35)Rebecca Etz (Encore! EP295)Olivia Webb (Encore! EP337)Mike BaldzickiLisa BariBetsy Seals (EP375)Dave ChaseCora Opsahl (EP373)Cora Opsahl (EP372)Dr Mark Fendrick (Encore! EP308)Erik Davis and Autumn Yongchu (EP371)Erik Davis and Autumn Yongchu (EP370)Keith HartmanDr Aaron Mitchell (Encore! EP282)Stacey Richter (INBW34)Ashleigh GunterDoug HetheringtonDr Kevin Schulman

 

consolidation, costs, data, employer health, insurance carriers, patientcentricity, pharma,

Recent Episodes

Subscribe

Sponsored by Aventria Health Group
©2022 BD Bridges LLC.