Unlocking Access to Healthcare

          Some years ago,  a physician friend told me this story, and it has remained with me. He was one of the finest diagnosticians around and highly respected for his medical skills. He was visiting with his family members at his daughters home and realized he was in the process of having a heart attack. He requested his son immediately take him to the hospital. There was a hospital with an emergency room quite close.  However, even in the midst of his coronary, he insisted that his son drive to another hospital that had a highly respected coronary team. 

I asked him,  "Why didn't you go to the first emergency room?" 

I'm still startled by his response. 

"Because I thought the quality of care there would kill me."

It was worth the risk of continuing to the drive to get to a facility he believed was highly qualified to handle his cardiac event.

3D person entering a red door isolated over a white backgroundOne size does not fit all and all providers of healthcare are not comparable. There are numerous entry points into the system and choosing the right entry point can be the most critical choice in the process. So what doors are worth going through and what do you look for in quality medical access?

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Know your facilities and their specialties.


My friend's story really defines the concept of access to healthcare. The reality is hospitals and providers have varying skill levels that are discernible only to those who spend their lives understanding our healthcare system and how it really operates. In the hospital world there are notable centers of excellence for all of the critical specialties in medicine. When you evaluate where to receive care the evaluation must begin with a determination of exactly what is the problem? Once we have a sense of what the problem is only then can we begin to look to find a provider or center of excellence most qualified to provide the care required. Since we don't have the skills that my friend the physician had in determining that he was in fact experiencing a coronary we need to rely upon the expertise of others to lead us to making good judgments.



3D character leaning on a key isolated over a white backgroundFind Doctors that Respect You and Your Time


Access is not just a concern in an emergency situation. During routine visits with our providers we often experience the indignity of the devaluation of our time as compared to that of the provider. In a "Huffington Post" article, Inga Offen wrote about finding the following sign at a local doctor’s office she was visiting: 


"'Please be advised that your waiting time could be extensive. If you are unable to continue your wait, please let the receptionist know and she will reschedule your appointment. Thank you for your understanding and patience as the doctor takes the time to provide excellent medical care to all.'"


Ms. Offen offered a translation of the above note. 

"'We make absolutely no effort to schedule in any meaningful way or to respect the time and comfort of our patients. Be prepared to sit here all afternoon because we have egos the size of Connecticut and think the sun rises and sets on our board certified tushies. Should you get so fed up that you leave, our hostile office staff will assure you that the same thing will happen the next time so you might as well suck it up and stay since you’ve already paid for parking. Regardless, we’re keeping your co-pay'”


          The translation you just read is in fact harsh, but I doubt that anyone who takes the time to read this article will deny that they too have experienced this disregard of their time and value at a physician's office. In fact, when we have those unusually high blood pressure readings often referred to as "white coat syndrome",  they may really reflect our frustration from  the excess time we have spent attempting to obtain medical care. Let's not forget the time we spent on the phone attempting to coordinate our care or make an appointment to be seen by our physician.



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Know Your Doctors Limitations


The current model for most healthcare, never demands excellence nor efficiency as it expects the patient's to be available and accommodating.The referral patterns with both hospital employed physicians and private practice physicians are dictated by the networks and relationships they establish which usually are mutually beneficial. For example, employed physicians in a health care system are "expected" to refer to specialists within the system. That is simply how it works.


           Should you as a patient want to go beyond that system to ensure you are receiving care from the most highly qualified provider you are very much on your own. You need to figure it out and coordinate the care on your own. This requires both expertise and significant blocks of time to navigate the health care maze in each of these varying systems. The providers fully understand the complexities of the system and rely upon patient inertia to move them through utilizing their service model.  


There are alternatives to explore beyond this most common model. The Concierge Healthcare Management Model, for example, is a patient centric system. Choosing the best providers and expecting them to perform at the highest level and quality with consideration for the patient is the focus.  Going around the red-tape to evaluating the needs of the patient over that of any particular health-care system ensures the patient is more likely to receive the best care for their situation. 

Click to Download a PDF on the Concierge HealthCare Management Model 



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Demand this Service Industry Serve You.


In each of the above scenarios there is an overarching theme. Healthcare differs from almost every other form of a service business in our society. Nearly all service businesses have a singular focus on the customer. Only healthcare is provider centric, where the terms of engagement are established by the provider and the recipient of the service is expected to accept those terms. Access should mean providing the highest quality of care in the most expeditious manner, while maintaining at all times the patient's dignity and sense of self. 


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Note from CEO, Mark Schlussel 

Access to quality healthcare is knowledge driven. We at Curus focus our attention on the details of care.
Each member of Curus is unique.  That is why we tailor their care to suit them. 


Filed Under: Health Management, concierge healthcare, changes in healthcare, work-life balance, medical access

Workplace Wellness Programs and the Need for a Health Coach

For executives, key employees, and professionals the concept of wellness programs within their work environment is a bit of an anomaly. With the electronics that we have available to us today, there really isn't an end to the work day. We are tethered to our smart phones almost 24/7 and we receive emails day and night. In this work environment, the idea of work-life balance becomes attenuated by the ongoing different demands of our work. Even when we are on "vacation," most of the people with whom we do business have continuing expectations of our availability.

Woman using cellphone at night

In this environment, where lines between our personal lives and our business lives have been blurred so completely, the need for the workplace to become holistic has increased dramatically. The idea of having yoga classes, cooking classes, stress management seminars, and weight-loss initiatives indicate how employers are attempting to add a measure of life balance into the workplace. These advances in bringing corporate wellness into the mainstream are evidence of corporate America recognizing the added demands they are placing on their skilled workforce and executives. As the United States has moved from a manufacturing economy to a service economy, the ability to leave your work at the workplace has disappeared.

In a Fortune magazine article by Holly Leibowitz Rossi, she quotes Jason Lange, a team lead for workplace health programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who states, "Your wellness program should be embedded into everything your organization does. It’s just as important as sales and marketing. It's just as important as research and development. It's just as important as customer service." The reality is, as the speed of innovative change accelerates in American society, the workplace demands on key decision-makers leaves very little time either in the workplace or outside of the workplace for the life quality opportunities of family, exercise, reading and study; forgotten is the idea of quiet time. Thus, the need to embed both wellness programs and health care management programs become essential to the quality of life of the drivers of your enterprise.

 shutterstock_173798813In this world of excessive demands and time constraints, what gets deferred and in many cases denied by corporate America's key employees beyond the requisite insurance is their actual healthcare and the need for it to be organized, maintained, and monitored on a regular basis. We have a tendency to defer that which is not readily apparent to us as being critical until it becomes critical. At that point, our ability to avoid the serious health issue ends. When we get to the "What do I do now?" moment of a healthcare diagnosis or event is when we discover that all of the healthcare insurance we have only deals with our well-being from a financial perspective. Health insurance really is a financial document intended to avoid adverse consequences to us financially by having the third party insurance company or our corporation’s self-insurance plan there to cover the expenses. Yet, at that same moment, we discover we are out there alone to make critical healthcare decisions without the expertise we have in other areas of our lives. Suddenly, we are required to make decisions on such questions as - Who is the best provider? Where is the best center of excellence? How do I access those facilities are decisions we are required to make? Our choice is to either find that expertise who can lead us through the healthcare maze or to seek to manage the process ourselves with the immense and necessary commitment to the time required.


 We at Curus recognized this void in the healthcare delivery process and developed our company and its processes and procedures to proactively assure that the "What do I do now" moment would be answered or even better avoided altogether. As we proactively assess and evaluate, we seek to avoid those critical decision points by providing the ultimate wellness program before there is an issue as well as if one occurs. As we gain an understanding of our members’ business pressures and lifestyles, we are able to provide input that will defer or avoid crisis situations. For our team at Curus, your wellness is the ultimate goal. 


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Note from CEO, Mark SchlusselMark-Schlussel-1

Wellness-  the theme of this month's article conjures up very different thoughts as we age. The seasons of life very much mirror the seasons of the year. As fall is upon us, it is a time to reflect on the value of good health and our need to invest the time, effort and discipline to maintain that good health. In each phase of our life, the choices we need to make to maintain our good health differ. At Curus, we believe that your concierge health coach should redefine wellness for each of our members depending upon the season of their life.


Filed Under: Health Management, concierge healthcare, changes in healthcare, corporate wellness, corporate benefits, work-life balance, healthcare coach