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Here comes the ‘Uber’ of healthcare: Interview (Includes interview and first-hand account)

The aim of CONCIERGE KEY Health is to eliminate excessive appointment and in-office wait times in the U.S. health system, through a consumer subscription-based membership. The app is based on concierge medicine model and it includes elite providers in all fields, from general practitioners to dentists.

The model enables patients to expedite the process of connecting to and consulting with elite top-tier doctors across the healthcare spectrum. Speed, convenience, and connecting with elite medical providers are the basis of the business model.

Entrepreneur Robert E. Grant  CONCIERGE KEY Health founder.

Entrepreneur Robert E. Grant, CONCIERGE KEY Health founder.

To find out more about this different approach to securing medical services, Digital Journal spoke with the founder, Robert Grant. Grant has previously had tenures at the ALPHAEON Corporation, Bausch+Lomb Surgical and Allergan Medical.
We began by asking about the state of U.S. healthcare.

Digital Journal: What are the major challenges facing healthcare?

Robert Grant: “Healthcare has been upside down for a long time now because it has forgotten who the ultimate customer is: the patient.

“The overly complex and highly opaque healthcare third-party based ecosystem of today prioritizes in the following order: payors (insurance companies), pharma, physicians, and finally, patients. This is due in part to the well-organized lobby and narrative of the industrial complex of healthcare, which is made up largely of payors and pharma corporations.

“We believe the healthcare ecosystem should be prioritized in exactly the opposite way of how it is structured today: first, patients; second, physicians providing care; third, products and finally payors.

“Because today’s industrial complex prioritizes the benefit of payors and pharma above physicians and patients, the entire analysis begins and ends with the ‘see-saw’ and purported zero-sum game of cost versus quality of care. Forgetting that the ultimate customer of healthcare is the patient, today’s ecosystem is not focused on the patients/customer experience.”

DJ: Why has healthcare become so bureaucratic?

Grant: “Because it is not clear who the customer is. When your doctor writes a prescription for medication to you, who exactly is the customer of that pharmaceutical product? Is it the pharmacy that inventories it? Or, is it the patient that picks it up from the pharmacy? Or, is it actually the third-party payor (insurance company) that pays for it? Or, is it really the doctor who wrote the prescription in the first place? Or, is it actually the patient who pays the premiums to the payors in the first place?

“It is an extraordinarily complex and opaque ecosystem, with all parties self-interested to maximize returns, and it isn’t clear that the patient is actually the customer. That why there is so much dissatisfaction in healthcare among patients.”

DJ: How can digital technology and automation help?

Grant: “Technology empowers consumers and further clarifies and magnifies the link and balance between vendors and customer. Vendors must serve the needs and demands of their customers.

“In virtually every other non-monopolized industry, vendors who fail to adequately serve their customers cease to exist. Cost and quality are not the only measures of performance. Customer experience and satisfaction play a major role in the so-called ‘Experience-Economy,’ which has penetrated every industry with widespread adoption by vendors and customers alike. Healthy competition sustains this balance between vendor and customer. Healthcare has been and continues to be the exception thus far.”

DJ: Please explain your new app and how it aids the patient.

Grant: “The CONCIERGE KEY Health app upgrades the healthcare experience for consumers. It provides personalized and on-demand access to the world’s elite physicians, including specialists, urgent care facilities and hospitals.”

DJ: What are the advantages with the app for healthcare institutions?

Grant: “Institutions will benefit from the CONCIERGE KEY Health app as it will reduce their financial dependence on payors and improve the healthcare experience for their customers, the patients. It will also provide a new service and revenue source that consumers want and are willing to pay for.”

DJ: What has the interest been from the medical community?

Grant: “The interest for CONCIERGE KEY’s “on-demand” service has been very high from the medical community. It appeals equally to patients and doctors alike. Longer doctor wait times, a better process to inform doctor selection than paid advertising and Yelp provide and the desire for a distinctive and personalized health experience are the major drivers for consumer demand.”

DJ: Which demographic groups do you think the app will appeal to most?

Grant: “Recent third-party surveys of approximately 900 consumers across 11 metro areas nationwide revealed a very high demand among 25 to 50-year-old consumers. There is a strong bias in the data toward family participation in CONCIERGE KEY.”

DJ: How have you addressed data security concerns?

Grant: “Our CONCIERGE KEY on-demand app includes state-of-the-art security protections and is HIPAA compliant.”

DJ: What else are you working on?

Grant: “We are laser-focused on perfecting our on-demand service. The market potential for this first patient-centric service is massive. Once we achieve our initial goals of widespread adoption of our on-demand service here and abroad, we see CONCIERGE KEY as an innovative platform for patient-centered and simple solutions to other healthcare needs, where we can help untangle unnecessary complexity and upgrade the overall healthcare experience for our subscription members.”

DJ: How else do you envisage healthcare technology evolving?

Grant: “The entire healthcare debate has focused solely on the see-saw of cost versus quality of care. To us, these are simply the hygiene factors of healthcare. No company has embedded a truly keen focus and understanding of the patient experience. Healthcare is the largest industry in the United States, representing almost one of every five dollars spent by Americans every year. No other industry is so late to emphasize the motivators for consumers related to the customer experience as healthcare is.

“While new technologies to treat our various ailments emerge every year by gaining FDA approval, we believe the next leap of technology expansion will address the personalization and overall experience of patients within the healthcare economy and we intend to lead that effort.”

While CONCIERGE KEY Health is the first mobile app that provides on-demand access to specialists, urgent care clinics and hospitals for U.S. patients, it will be intriguing to see if an Uber-like model can develop in the healthcare space.

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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