Diving Deeper Into Medical Franchising
We’ve predicted it along with many others: a boom in medical franchising that upends the traditional healthcare industry that creates some massive, new players in the franchise industry. As a reporter who’s received care at several next-generation health players, I see a category that has many unique needs.
Franchising medicine isn’t solely about giving regular people (along with multi-unit franchise groups) a piece of the massive U.S. health care pie, it’s a rare opportunity at a critical moment in time to reinvent the wheel, ask some difficult questions and re-think how maintenance therapy, senior services and urgent care can and should be provided.
I’ve been a patient at The Joint for years now, and know that my own life/health have been made better by the weekly visits I can afford, with no insurance involved. If I was receiving such frequent chiropractic care in the traditional system, I would be spending drastically more money—so much so that I wouldn’t do it. That would have immediate, negative consequences on my everyday happiness and wellbeing.
Another recent example, and one I can’t stop thinking about, is my interview with My Eyelab, a franchised optometrist provider that uses video conferencing to automate eye exams. The doctor isn’t in the room, but appears on a screen to take the patient through the exam. During the interview, using video conferencing, I was able to sit in on an eye exam—and it was almost exactly like my recent exam at a traditional optometrist. It was a cool process, and has clear benefits to the doctors themselves who could theoretically do the exam from their home office—or the beach.
Aside from some fancy, multi-million dollar pieces of equipment or digital X-rays, it’s not often I’m struck by the modernity of traditional healthcare here in the U.S. It’s amazing that something so critical to life is so far from the leading edge of technology.
With all the promise of franchised healthcare, I see many issues including how traditional health systems adopt or compete with this nascent franchised category. Also, how do these firms attract and retain high-quality doctors and technicians? What about the involvement (or avoidance) of insurance carriers? Should HSA dollars be part of the equation, or should providers offer options like the CareCredit card that allows patients to finance their treatment?
It appears there’s no stopping the movement toward franchised medicine, and that’s probably a good thing. But there’s a lot of details to work out as the industry matures, and we want to be there to cover it.