An IM chat with Williamsburg's 'Hipster MD'
Williamsburg's hipster MD Jay Parkinson has more in common with "Little House on the Prairie's "Doc" than you may think.
"Hello, doctor's office, hold please ..." Then the Muzak begins to play.
If you hate those kinds of calls, it may be time to ditch your HMO and switch to Williamsburg's Dr. Jay.
Maybe you've already heard of Jay Parkinson, 32, the "hipster doctor" of Williamsburg who's injected the popular social technology of today into his medical practice, i.e. you can "talk" to him about what ails you via e-mail, text, IM, video chat, or if you're keeping it old school -- the phone.
He's a high-tech pioneer among the Hippocratic set and his just-launched practice Hello Health borrows features from services and businesses built upon Internet convenience: the Apple Genius Bar, Google, Facebook, Zipcar and Netflix to name a few.
In other words, Dr. Jay is about the direct connect -- he's gotten rid of the all the intermediary stuff and closed the distance between you and your doctor. You need him? Just logon and ask him to come to your house. Or text him a photo of that mole that has you worried or zap him that link from WebMD you think may describe your symptoms. Go about your business, wait for the ping.
Until recently, Parkinson was working solo. He started his own practice in September 2007. But now he's joined the Montreal-based company Myca, which specializes in using technology to improve patient care, to create Hello Health -- a team of three doctors (Parkinson, plus Dr. Sean Khozin and Dr. Devlyn Corrigan) based on Berry St. in Williamsburg.
The irony here is that Parkinson is actually using all the high-tech stuff to take the doctor-patient relationship back a century. Back to a time when doctors served their immediate community. As Hello Health's "Our Story" section says: You knew his first name, of perhaps you just called him "Doc." So yeah, kind of like "Little House on the Prairie."
The Hello Health site shares not only your doctor's first name, but also stats like their favorite books. Dr. Jay's fave? "The Omnivore's Dilemma." Anyone can sign up to become a member of Hello Health for $35 per month, then schedule appointments and talk to your doctor online. Office visits will never cost more than $200 and that includes the tests and any generic meds you may require. [For more HH pricing info, click HERE]
Hello Health officially launched last week -- so in the spirit of hip health, Urbanite caught up with Dr. Jay for an IM chat to get some more dets on the company and see how it's going so far.
urbanite: ok cool .. so i guess let's just start with the basics
urbanite: What is Hello Health?
jayparkinsonmd: Hello Health is a neighborhood doctor's practice that uses the internet and in-person visits to keep you healthy and to make going to the doctor as simple and stress free as possible...but I'd like to refer you to this:
Click through for the full transcript of our IM chat: And then if you still have questions, check the Hello Health FAQs.urbanite: do most of the people you treat have health insurance?
jayparkinsonmd: About half of my patients have health insurance. Those without health insurance come to me because we also function as what I call, a healthcare financial consultant -- a health care provider who helps them spend their money wisely. We've formed relationships with various specialists and radiologists who are very Hello Health friendly and who have agreed on a set price. For instance, we have radiology partners who have agreed to charge our patients $60 for a chest x-ray. If you were to go on your own to just any radiologist, you may walk out of there with a $300 bill for a chest x-ray. You can't really do a google search for how much healthcare is supposed to cost. But we've done our research and know how much healthcare costs and found partners who agree to a set rate. We simply help you spend your money wisely. We tell you to go to Target to get the prescription for $4 instead of Walgreens where they would charge you $40. There are all kinds of tricks we have up our sleeve to help you get affordable, high quality healthcare.
jayparkinsonmd: For those with health insurance, you come to us at Hello Health because you want an accessible, convenient doctor and are interested in having a relationship with your doctor that is updated for today's lifestyle. We ensure you get plenty of attention. We don't believe in 5 minute doctor visits. If you forgot to tell me something, just shoot me an email after the appointment. It's pretty convenient. Also, we don't take any health insurance, but we give you an invoice and the required forms for you to get reimbursed and you simply drop it in our mailbox. Since our visit fees are so inexpensive, you should get fully reimbursed if you are allowed to see out of network doctors.
urbanite: There seem to be elements of social-networking going on. How similar is being a member of Hello Health to having a profile on Facebook?
jayparkinsonmd: There really aren't any similarities between a Hello Health membership and having a profile on Facebook. Our platform is a healthcare-grade , 110% HIPAA compliant platform that has elements taken from social networking platforms like Facebook. First , I , as a doctor , have "friends" who are really my patients. Once members choose their doctor , we can communicate on the platform via secure email , IM , video chat , and SMS. Members log in and make their own appointment. The first appointment is always in person either at your home or our office. After we get to know you , we can follow up online or in person. It's about using the internet to communicate so our relationship is enhanced to partner with you to keep you as healthy as possible.
jayparkinsonmd: we don't really think that people want to socially connect with other people who have a similar illness. there are other sites that do that , like patientslikeme.com. we'll let them do that stuff.
urbanite: So changing direction a little to stuff that's not available on the info part of your site ...
urbanite: In other blog posts written about the way you practice medicine , you've been dubbed the "hipster doctor" -- how do you feel about that?
jayparkinsonmd: I've learned that the press will label you what they want to label you. I've also learned that all press is good press. I live and work in WIlliamsburg and I love this community so much. It just happens to be full of what people call hipsters. So naturally , the association will happen. But of course , I treat hipster and non-hipster alike.
urbanite: b/c the idea is that you don't have to be "hip" for this practice to fit your practice right? This is just how people are living ...
jayparkinsonmd: but it's also how all the hipsters communicate nowadays
urbanite: Your description [of Hello Health] kind of reminded me of "Little House on the Prairie" .. going back to the days when you knew your doctor and called him "Doc"
urbanite: so in some ways you are taking even a 19th c. idea of medical care and fusing it together with all the tech advantages (well , i guess hygienic advances too) ... taking what's old to improve the new? Is that right .. could you talk about those ideas and why the close patient circle is important to you?
jayparkinsonmd: That's exactly what we're doing. Healthcare delivery has been taken out of the neighborhood and into the large institutions. That's great for when you need a specialist. But when you need simply primary care , it's very beneficial to both you and your doctor if they live and work within the neighborhood. A close-by , accessible doctor should keep you out of the expensive ER. Imagine that coupled with the advances in communications that the internet has brought , and this tends to solve some serious problems within the healthcare system. I actually think that one of the main problems in healthcare is a lack of communication. Hello Health is the beginning of a whole new era of efficient communication within healthcare.
urbanite: Hello Health members have online profiles with their health information, right? Are there any worries over info security there?
jayparkinsonmd: They do have online profiles. As far as security info goes, here is our official statement: "HelloHealth is dedicated to protecting the privacy and assuring the security of our patient's medical records and information. In fact, all of our policies and procedures meet HIPAA requirements, but most of them exceed the requirements of HIPAA. We're very HIPAA-ish. A lot of people don't know that HIPAA establishes a new civil right of patients to access their medical records, even when in electronic formats. And we will always make it easy and user-friendly for our customers to view, access, and transport their medical information. It's in our DNA."
urbanite: i see you have a form online for people who'd like to be hello health doctors ... what qualities are you looking for as you add new partners?
jayparkinsonmd: We're looking for doctors with the hello health personality. Doctors who have excellent listening and communication skills. Doctors who exude concern and care. It's interesting, we've had over 600 doctors contact us and ask about becoming hello health doctors. Primary care is getting more and more difficult for doctors to practice. Many doctor's practices are simply closing down due to the high overhead (overhead in a traditional doctor's practice is nearly 70%!) that needs to be built in to maintain all of this billing infrastructure to deal with insurance companies. And insurance companies are denying more and more to physicians and reimbursement rates are getting lower every year. This doesn't apply to specialists. Many of their reimbursement rates are actually increasing. But primary care docs are contacting us because they see this as an opportunity to finally do their job well without feeling rushed by the unfortunate 5 minute doctor visit they are forced to implement in their traditional insurance-taking practices. Many doctors have to see over 40 patients a day just to break even. That's sad to me because I know I want more than 5 minutes of my doctor's time. Hello Health is about giving doctors an opportunity to do their job well and giving patients an opportunity to have a real relationship with their doctor but updated for today's lifestyle.
jayparkinsonmd signed off at 3:51:21 PM.