It’s Not Just for Rabbits
A friend sent me an email several months ago suggesting her healthcare experience as a topic for a blog post. She was excited to find a Primary Care Clinic in her city that sounded perfect. They advertised, among many things, time to get to know you as a patient and a multi-team approach.
She liked her doctor who looked at her mild osteopenia recorded in a DXA* scan, plus her fitness level and said, “No big deal. Just keep on doing what you’re doing.” In her three years as a patient there, several changes took place. Suddenly, her doctor (the third one) urged her to see their orthopedic surgeon “immediately” given her osteopenia report. My friend, who is a runner and biker, passed on the visit to the surgeon and signed up for a different insurer.
I looked up her former primary care clinic – Iora – and found this lead on their website:
We are pleased to announce One Medical’s acquisition of Iora Health, a company that shares our commitment to deliver human-centered, technology-powered primary care.
I’m fascinated with words and glommed on to “human-centered” and “technology-powered.” What other center could One Medical focus on? Oh, yes – the human wallet. Technology-powered means that AI plus the corporate investors are now running the financial side of primary care clinics all over the U.S. One Medical is no exception, operating in 25 cities, with 125 offices. Nothing personal when AI denies your referral or a claim. And it’s a Sisyphean task to appeal—the reason why so few people even try.
What Happened Next?
Step One. Sadly, Iora’s biggest problem was that it wasn’t bringing in enough revenue – hence the pennies on the $$ sale and my friends’ sudden referral to the surgeon.
Step Two. February 2023 brought this dubious news:
One Medical Joins Amazon to Make It
Easier for People to Get and Stay Healthier
Amazon paid nearly $4 billion to buy One Medical. Patients can now fall into the caring arms of Jeff Bezos who, as always, is looking for a healthy profit. When isn’t he? Here are other promises in this word salad:
The One Medical annual membership Amazon fee covers access to One Medical’s on-demand and asynchronous virtual care services as well as high-touch and value-added personal services such as insurance navigation and referral management. The on-demand virtual services are accessible through the One Medical app (at no additional cost), featuring 24/7/365 on-demand video chats, secure provider messaging, “Treat Me Now” assessments for common health concerns, easy vaccine and medical record access, prescription renewals, and proactive reminders for follow-up care and referral needs.
Wowza! Where can I sign up? Now instead of receiving just your evidence of coverage you might also receive an addendum—a thesaurus to translate phrases like “asynchronous” and “virtual care.”
Step Three. As you might have guessed, the rabbits are leaving the hole. Some of One Medical’s offices are bare—the docs have split—while patients are being offered on-demand video chats. If you ever hated slipping on one of those rustling, paper gowns, now’s your moment.
Not sure how much medicine is in the tele-medicine part, but at least you don’t have to spend an hour in a waiting room. And just wait until One Medical scrapes off your patient data and sells it to Amazon! I guess HIPPA now only applies to what the people in the waiting room might hear. Best free advice–stay healthy!
Forgive my thumping reaction to what is passing for our healthcare system these days. I leave you with “hare-raising” words from my fellow Missourian Mark Twain:
“It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.”
For more on the DXa SCAN
- This is from an NPR program I heard several years ago: Merck, the manufacturers of Fosamax, an osteoporosis drug and the manufacturer of the DXA scanner joined together . . . formed the Bone Measurement Institute, lobbied the insurance companies to cover the DXA scan. . . and sales that had been sluggish for both companies skyrocketed. You can stick the word institute on almost anything and it sounds important!
- If you would like to read this article from Australia in 2022, “The great osteoporosis scam” you can find it at: https://empowertotalhealth.com.au/the-great-osteoporosis-scam. It provides both answers to myths and also solid advice on how to keep your bones strong and healthy.
Photo Credits: Down the rabbit hole – meghan hessler, What now? – tim mossholder, Rabbit – sincerely media.