A Brazilian company known as Dr. Consulta is taking healthcare to a place only previously known by fast food chains. The company, founded in 2011, breaks the mold as a provider with set prices. Some doctors compare the setup to a McDonald’s menu. Whether a patient has insurance or not, Dr. Consulta offers a variety of service for up-front and consistent prices. Keep reading to learn more, or follow the original story here for more information.
That’s how Thomas Srougi describes himself – an ugly duckling. Almost everyone in Srougi’s family is a doctor. His preference for entrepreneurship and finances set him apart. And yet things seem to come full circle as Srougi is Dr. Consulta’s cofounder.
Though the company only began operation in 2011, it has already raised $100 million. Plans exist to double that sum. Most of the money comes from groups in Silicon Valley and global investors. To date, Dr. Consulta has served 1 million patients.
While Brazil has had universal healthcare on the books since 1988, the public system does not cover everyone. Nearly one-third of people live with private health insurance provided by an employer or similar entity. About 150 million people living in Brazil do not have either form of insurance. These are the people Dr. Consulta seeks to serve.
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Dr. Consulta is intentional about what it does and doesn’t do. Srougi states clearly that the company will not be providing insurance. It also will not be a hospital. He says they partner with hospitals for those purposes. Dr. Consulta does, however, trade data with a number of groups to assist in medicla research. All told, the company employs around 2000 doctors.
While medical costs are often seemingly determined at random in the US, Dr. Consulta posts everything at the office. The cost of a service is provided right up front. A visit to a general-practitioner, for example, is costed at about $30.
One potential problem with this model is that people coming to the clinic may abuse the fixed costs to over order. This costs hospitals both time and money. Srougi says one way they’ve gotten around this at Dr. Consulta is to change the incentives for prescribing physicians. Systems even exist to subtract pay from professionals who veer off course too dramatically.
All in all, Srougi claims that he isn’t trying to push anyone out of public or private insurance. It’s not a competition.