On March 4, 2020, the San Antonio Free Market Medical Association had their first quarterly meeting of the year at the Omni Hotel and Resorts Colonnade San Antonio. Physicians, pharmacists, brokers, patients, employers, imaging, lab, preventive care providers and others gathered together to listen to Dr. Marty Makary explain the vital role the free market plays in healthcare.
The meeting was preceded by a VIP Sponsors Dinner where our keynote speaker, Dr. Marty Makary dined exclusively at the Gold Sponsors table with River City OMS, IB-TX, Direct Med Clinic, Shankx Web Development, Cox Manufacturing.
As a leading health expert who has spent time with innovators disrupting healthcare, our sponsors were privileged to have Dr. Makary lend his expertise and facilitate table talk.
“How can an employer tell a good broker?”,“How, as an association, do you serve your population?” and “What are some solutions to money games in healthcare?” These were but some questions that were asked to Dr. Marty Makary and also to one another.
Who is Dr. Marty Makary?
For anyone unfamiliar with his work, Dr. Marty Makary’s contributions to the field of medicine are nearly enough to fill a library. Makary developed a surgical checklist to monitor hospital infection rates, surgery outcomes and procedure costs used by the World Health Organization. He was also chairman of its technical workgroup in 2011. Dr. Makary has written over 250 articles, is a GI doctor, Health Policy Advisor, Chief of Islet Transplantation Surgery, Editor-In-Chief of MedPage Today, and professor at John Hopkins, to name but some of his roles.
Dr. Makary also manages to travel the country to stop the average American patient from being sued. Dr. Makary is often accompanied by his students from his research team.
In spite of all of these accomplishments, Makary is one of the few doctors willing to take the time--2 years and 22 cities to be exact--to interview healthcare stakeholders of every kind. “I interviewed executives, front line clinicians, insurers, brokers, pharmacists, hospital leaders and patients—in an attempt to answer the question: How can we stop the healthcare cost crisis from destroying the country?” He shares the answer to this question in his latest book, The Price We Pay: What Broke American Health Care--and How to Fix It.
We invited this advocate for fairness and honesty, on the micro and macro level of healthcare, to kick off our first quarter.
Chapter leaders Dr. Roger Moczygemba of Direct Med Clinic and CEO Shankar Poncelet of Shankx Web Development, talk with Dr. Marty Makary as he autographs his book and discusses the first quarterly meeting.
Throughout the meeting, Makary elaborated on the three fundamental root drivers of the healthcare cost crisis including pricing failures, inappropriate care, and middlemen, which he also lays out in his book, “The Price We Pay: What Broke American Health Care--and How to Fix It.”
According to Makary’s research group, healthcare now accounts for nearly 50% of the federal budget. Makary explains that tax dollars are not only being allotted to Medicare and Medicaid, but nearly half of Social Security payments are being used for copays, deductibles and services not covered. He explains that the military and veterans each have their own healthcare system, and that tax money is going to insurance for the 9,000,000 million federal workers and their families. Then, there’s interest. “All in all, nearly half of federal spending goes to healthcare in all its hidden forms.”
Dr. Makary compares flights with unlisted prices versus listed prices to illustrate price transparency and the impact of making healthcare "shoppable." “What if airlines argued that they couldn't give passengers a price before the flight because they didn’t know whether the flight would be delayed or rerouted? ‘Maybe you’ll consume a beverage!’ If airlines operated without showing their prices and then gave us outrageously high bills, we’d all agree that a lack of price transparency was enabling price gouging.”
Dr. Makary made it clear that just as televisions, toys and cell phones have become transparent in their industry and still profitable, that we are able to make healthcare shoppable. “No one is suggesting that we, surgeons, give patients a price in an operating room during a trauma situation, but most medical care is elective and shoppable. Everyday Americans are asking for honest prices, and we need to respond.”
We are successfully establishing a network of people that believe changing the way we purchase healthcare services by providing value driven healthcare is possible.
Having quarterly meetings allows different stakeholders to meet together to have true, open, and honest dialogue about how to tackle the overwhelmingly broken healthcare system, and as Dr. Marty Makary has done in his book, not only ask questions, but offer solutions.
“Policy makers debate how to fund the broken healthcare system, but we really need to talk about how to fix the broken healthcare system. We need to ask how we can spend our healthcare dollars wisely.”
Makary continues the conversation helping us to understand that as we continue to learn about patients want, how we can deliver high-quality care, that this will influence markets.
Dr. Makary not only gave a call to restore medicine to its mission, but to revolutionize healthcare through transparency in San Antonio, believing that, “research should resort in advocacy not just talk in meetings.” He has already seen transparency change clinics, a reduction in hospitalizations and readmissions, ultimately lowering healthcare costs.
We hope to see the same, and believe as we have more meetings that our discussions will continue to result in the first steps to continuing to see the cost of healthcare become affordable and accessible to people all across San Antonio.
Mark your calendars to come to our next meeting on Wednesday, June 3, 2020.
We wish to extend a final thank you to all of our sponsors for making the event possible:
Gold Sponsors: River City OMS, IB-TX, Direct Med Clinic, Shankx Web Development, Cox Manufacturing.
Silver Sponsors: MyMD Connect,
Bronze Sponsors: D.O.A. Pest Control, Dr. Kristin S. Held, Atlas Medical Holdings, Right At Home, and Altiqe