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Reducing Healthcare Costs with Dr. Viral Patel

George Grombacher November 3, 2022

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Reducing Healthcare Costs with Dr. Viral Patel

LifeBlood: We talked about reducing healthcare costs, the value of having a doctor in the family and how to recreate that for your employees, educating patients on how to best access healthcare, and how to get started, with Viral Patel, MD, and Founder and CEO of Radish telehealth. 

Listen to learn the business case for brining telehealth to your org!

You can learn more about Viral at Radish.Health, Instagram and LinkedIn.

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Our Guests

George Grombacher

Dr. Viral Patel

Episode Transcript

george grombacher 0:15
left this is George G. And the time is right welcome today’s guest drop off of Bureau Patel. Dr. Patel, are you ready to do this? Yep, let’s do it. Let’s go. Dr. Brill is the founder and CEO of radish their telehealth company meeting the needs created by an overstretched health care system. They are keeping organizations happy, healthy and productive by making primary care, nutritional services, and all overall wellness programs available for every employee. Dr. Patel, tell us a little bit about your personal life more about your work, why you do what you do.

Unknown Speaker 0:50
So I live in New York City I moved here 12 years ago, for emergency medicine residency, I worked pretty high level as a physician here in New York at various hospitals, and even was a director of a large emergency room here before jumping ship. As I saw a lot of problems in healthcare, and especially on the care delivery side, worked at Oscar, the health insurance company for a few years. And really what I recognized was that people even with really good insurance and great degrees and terminal degrees, like lawyers and doctors, and you know, people in finance, even with that just don’t know what to do when they get sick. And I found that out, because most of them just call me. And while I’m gonna friends and family had a great experience in healthcare, because they had me to call, and not to toot my own horn, but I was available, I knew their history, it was easy for them. And we want to create that sort of doctrine, the family type experience for all the people that we work with. And that’s why you know, we I started radish was to have that sort of medical care for everyone is, you know, I want others to have that same experience my friends and family have.

george grombacher 2:07
That makes a ton of sense. And it’s interesting, that’s probably always been true. And then when you have, for lack of a better term, new things come along, that are really, really scary, like COVID. It’s like, Oh, my goodness, I got this, what do I do? It’s different than then then how I am potentially differently sick than I used to be. And I have no idea how to do this or who to call? Is it knowable? How many how many people in America have a primary care physician or they understand who the point of contact would even be?

Unknown Speaker 2:46
Yeah, so the number reported is less than half of people under the age of 40 actually have a primary care doctor, which is actually much higher, it even that is higher than it actually feels because even those that have a primary care doctor, if you ask them, what do they do when they get sick? Their answer tends to be they go to urgent care. And I’ve seen this with HR leaders that are doing no educational pushes to get their employees to go to their primary care doctor over urgent care. I’ve seen this with insurance brokers that should know this system better. And they always like yeah, I have a primary care doctor, I think I’m okay. And they asked him like, Well, what do you do when you get sick? You wake up tomorrow, you have a sore throat, where do you go? And most will say I’ll just go to the urgent care down the street, right and they’re not calling their main doctor to make sure that everything else is taken care of becomes the ongoing health becomes something that is a check mark that maybe you do once a year maybe you don’t you kind of get around to it. And then when you do get sick, you don’t have that relationship that you’ve built with someone and the end have just gone to a random place.

george grombacher 3:58
Yeah. Which is not necessarily optimal. Now so you recognize this problem you see here’s here’s what I think a vision for a great scenario would look like that you’re comfortable that you know who you can contact and feel like it is this we’ve got a doctor in the family thing I think that that’s really cool. Radish it’s why did you choose to focus on on organizations?

Unknown Speaker 4:31
So you know, we wanted the old doctor in the family type relationship with patients and we had two options either we go directly to people and say hey, look, you pay out of pocket. And you see someone like that sort of business. Kind of exist. Already concierge physicians have been around for a while. They’re really expensive. Like every side concierge physicians here in New York. Some of them charge upwards of $10,000 a year to have access to them. And going with employer is not only do we provide that benefit as a doctor in the family, it’s just a better service. But because people are coming to us and not ending up at the ER and not ending up at urgent care, it actually saves the health plan money, it saves employers money. So the reason we chose working with employers is it provides your employees a great service, and helps them decrease their skyrocketing health care costs.

george grombacher 5:32
So how much of have six successfully delivering health care is getting people to the right spot, instead of having them walk into the ER, instead of having them go to the wrong place?

Unknown Speaker 5:49
A lot. I mean, there’s some recent studies have shown upwards of 70 plus percent of visits to the ER, don’t need to be in the ER. And you can’t. We’ve talked about this in our team as well, historically, what people do during when, when patients end up in the ER for the wrong reasons, employers and health plans try to educate them on what they should do, and why they should go to the ER, they’re always like, that’s the person that’s getting blamed. But patients in that scenario are not healthcare experts, they’re doctors, that’s why they needed the doctor. That’s why they’re in the ER to begin with. They didn’t go to med school, they don’t know that, you know, this type of toe pain is totally fine. But that type of chest pain needs to be seen in the ER, that’s not those are really silly examples and a pretty obvious to most people but then it becomes more nuanced as you get to other things. And so 70 plus percent of visits to the ER could be taken care of by a primary care doctor. And it’s not the patient’s fault, they have an ailment of some sort, and they’re terrified that they’re dying, which is why they end up in the ER, or urgent care because they need that care, and they have nowhere else to turn. So if they had that doctor in the family relationship with someone, they could pick up the phone, they could text that doctor like, hey, what do I do, if you get a response in a few minutes, you’re far less likely to end up in urgent care, you’re far less likely to end up in the ER and more importantly, whatever you’re worried about has been taken care of.

george grombacher 7:21
That makes a ton of sense. And I mean, when you have 70% of the people that are walking into an emergency room that ought not be there. There’s the strain that that puts on what you mentioned, and just we all have finite resources. And there’s only so many doctors and nurses to be taking care of people and administrators to be bringing people in. So the more you can unplug that system, obviously the better. In terms of of mental health, I know that just from my basic understanding of employee benefits. And when I think with a lot of employees, when they think I have a mental health condition, they look at their Employer Assistance Program or something like that. And then it’s trying to figure this system out. And then somebody has a mental health issue, they probably wanted to dress a little faster than having to go through a bunch of paperwork and do research online to find a provider.

Unknown Speaker 8:17
Yes, I don’t know if there’s a question in there. But I think I agree overall, with that statement, I’ll take it a step further. We recognize that exact problem we started off initially as just a primary care company quickly realized that if you really want to take care of the whole person, mental health has to be part of that. So when we work with employers and work with their employees, not only do we assign people a doctor, that becomes your doctor in the family relationship, we proactively assign you a therapist, now you can always change it that person if they’re not someone that exactly fits your needs. But what we’ve seen is that removing that guesswork and additional research that people have to go through to find the quote unquote, right therapists by reading tons and tons of stuff, that’s one extra step from where the person is to where they need to be, which is getting some sort of help. And if we can just assign them someone proactively, we’re seeing people that historically have shied away from mental health, but have this like, you know, so left over like machismo attitude of I don’t need it, I’m fine. You know, work my own way through it, I’ll get over it kind of attitude. And those people are now more likely to actually get the care they need. Because you’re just proactively assigning someone it takes away the stigma of having to search some For someone it’s like, two clicks, I booked an appointment. One more click and I see my therapist online. Right I see the friendly face and that’s that’s how quickly it can start.

george grombacher 9:54
The stigma very real. We’ve been talking about mental health as a as a society a lot Over the past couple of years, and that’s not the only good thing, but then the friction of that, right? I’m sure that there’s a lot of people who you touched on this. Like, I feel like I want to I think I need to see somebody or talk to somebody. But the work that it takes to to follow the current steps, a lot of people probably drop out. And, and and they quit. Is there is is, is that knowable?

Unknown Speaker 10:26
When in terms of when people start getting the medical care, the mental arcade,

george grombacher 10:31
or they just don’t get it, because they give up? Yeah, and

Unknown Speaker 10:35
and I guess it’s not necessarily knowable, because you don’t know what you don’t know. But what is known as 20% of people have some sort of mental health ailment that could definitely benefit from a therapy visit. I’ve seen studies as high as 50 plus percent of people on surveys have said they may benefit from a mental health visit. And I think that if you want to take it a step further removing the stigma for those that have any diagnosable conditions, they should definitely be seeing a therapist, but I think people that even, quote unquote, are fine and don’t have a diagnosable condition can benefit from talking to someone, and talking to someone that is a professional, that isn’t biased, like their friends and family would be because I think a lot of people turn to friends and family for this sort of conversation. And no matter how good of a friend they are, they’re going to be a little bit biased, in some way, shape, or form. And which is far and so it’s much better to actually talk to a professional. So I you know, my hope as a company is that we keep people healthy, both physically and mentally, and hoping that assigning a doctor to them assigning a therapist takes that guesswork away, and people are more likely to get the care they need in some cases that didn’t even know that needed.

george grombacher 12:02
What is the business case, as you’re approaching businesses, it’s doing a good job for your employees and getting them the care that they want? Is it also reducing the life the insurance premiums and overall costs?

Unknown Speaker 12:20
It’s both of those things. So you know, one, it’s a better experience, right? You can hand someone an insurance card and say, Look, I gave you a Cadillac health plan with the United Health Insurance or at nerrit, Cigna, anything you go do will be covered by your health plan. That’s great. But now you’ve given me essentially a credit card, I can spend anywhere, but I have to go find the person to spend it on. And after do that research, I have to find, you know, call a bunch of doctors offices, and they Hey, are you taking new patients? Do you take Cigna or I go to the signal website and figure it out, as opposed to you’re assigned someone that’s a quality doctor that immediately can build a relationship with and you know that that is the person you’ll see every time you come back. And you’re assigned a therapist as well to take care of the majority of your needs. So that’s experience wise. That’s point one. Part two is, you know, going back to my example of my friends and family with, you know, freely multiple degrees and a lot of schooling and great jobs and a high salary, still spend hours on end trying to figure out the healthcare system and what to do. So less guesswork, and you have fewer employees sitting on their computer trying to figure out where to go when they get there. What kind of doctor to see, you can take the guesswork away, just ask a doctor on what kind of doctor they should see if they need to see a doctor at all. So more time in terms of time spent being productive at work and or being done with work early to spend time with family. We hear it all the time with our employers and employees that they’re not taking that half day off to go get their annual physical, because they’re able to do it from the comfort of their own home, they’re able to get their lab work on the way to work on the way home from work, as opposed to taking that time off to go to the doctor’s office. And then the last piece is if people are coming to us and not ending up at the ER, our visits are way cheaper. We’re primary care doctors, right? We it’s we don’t have the overhead that an ER does. And they know that it’s not that ers are quote unquote, over billing because I see a lot of articles on that. And part of it is as an ER doctor and working on the other side. I have a little bit of bias there. But when you show up at the ER everyone is treated like they could have been recently hit by a car they could have could have a stroke could have a heart attack. And that is the system that’s created because it’s supposed to be an emergency and you assume it’s an emergency, which is why it’s so expensive. When you talk to a doctor that knows you well, they’re not spending that time coming and saying what’s going on I’m not really sure what’s happening. This is a major emergency. They know you they know what’s they already have Background on you. So there’s not that trust building relationship, so you can get to the point quicker and more efficiently. And that’ll help decrease healthcare costs both on for payers and, and or in this case employers that effectively we have become the payer of the health insurance system.

george grombacher 15:17
Got it. Nice. And are you geographically based? Are you are you everywhere?

Unknown Speaker 15:26
We’re focused mostly in the Northeast, and in New York area. Currently, our physicians have licenses in what we when we talk to potential clients, we say most of the states with a lot of people. So the Northeast Illinois, most of the southeast, Texas, and California, will be in all 50 states by early q1 of next year.

george grombacher 15:50
Nice. Exciting. Yeah. And how has the how is the entrepreneurial experience been for you? Have you always been an entrepreneur is this relatively

Unknown Speaker 16:02
I know, I have not. I grew up in a family of entrepreneurs. But like I said earlier, I you know, I moved to New York for ER residency here at Columbia, and then stayed on, I thought I wanted to be an academic physician that was a teacher, an educator, and potentially, like run a hospital one day and that’s why I worked my way up as a vice chair and director of NYU Brooklyn er here, and it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. And I saw some interesting thing happening interesting things happening in health tech, which is why I left you know, I still miss the the opportunity to take care of people and the biggest time and and I think that it was that part of the experience and the gratification, I still miss but it’s a different sort of satisfaction here as an entrepreneur because you’re building something that is taking care of a lot of people and hopefully can grow to even more people over time.

george grombacher 17:05
Yeah, makes a lot of sense. Well, Dr. Veal, thank you so much for coming on. Where can people learn more about you and how can they engage with radish

Unknown Speaker 17:15
so they can learn about us and me at radish dot health or website so WWW dot radish spelt like vegetable dot health and for those that are looking to have a better health care service, both directly and through their employer, they can reach out on the website and we’re certainly happy to talk to them anytime.

george grombacher 17:38
What Why did you name the company radish?

Unknown Speaker 17:42
I am not a branding guru or strategist. I was talking to a friend who has since become later became an investor and advisor for radish he’s a girl just pick a damn name. It doesn’t really matter where were sitting in the park and I’m like, I don’t know like what about fruit and vegetable names? Look, there was a few different ones we wrote down and radish dot health was available and I ended up liking it. So it stuck since and here we are.

george grombacher 18:17
Here we are love it. If you enjoyed as much as I did show Dr. Vera your your appreciation and share today share with a friend who also appreciates good ideas go to radish dot health or a d i s h dot health and check out other great resources and reach out and find out if it is a fit for your organization as well. Thanksgiving. Thank you have a good one. And until next time, remember, do your part by doing your best

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