Patient Engagement

Provider and insurer Zooms its way through the Pacific Northwest

Zoom, which serves patients in Portland, Seattle and Vancouver, Washington, is trying to buck the traditional healthcare system by offering what it bills as convenient, affordable care in a hip and user-friendly environment.

Lacee Badgley, the mother of a 7-year-old, works full time as an insurance adjuster. Like most working parents, she finds making time for doctor’s appointments a challenge.

“I don’t have the time or energy to drive around town and then wait,” she said.

That’s why Badgley, 36, of Portland, Oregon, switched from her previous doctors to Zoom+, a medical provider and health insurer that aims to give patients more control and transparency. She can make same-day appointments through a mobile app, and she’s usually in and out within 30 minutes.

“It’s one-stop shopping,” she said. “I am a big fan of getting everything quickly.… I get my medication, my tests, everything in one visit.”

Zoom, which serves patients in Portland, Seattle and Vancouver, Washington, is trying to buck the traditional healthcare system by offering what it bills as convenient, affordable care in a hip and user-friendly environment. The retail clinics, painted a vibrant turquoise, are stylish and simple. The prices are posted on the walls.

Zoom was created by Dr. Dave Sanders and Dr. Albert DiPiero to address problems that have plagued medical care for decades: rising costs, poor service and low quality, Sanders said. “We fundamentally wanted to change the system,” he said.

Sponsored Post

Physician Targeting Using Real-time Data: How PurpleLab’s Alerts Can Help

By leveraging real-time data that offers unprecedented insights into physician behavior and patient outcomes, companies can gain a competitive advantage with prescribers. PurpleLab®, a healthcare analytics platform with one of the largest medical and pharmaceutical claims databases in the United States, recently announced the launch of Alerts which translates complex information into actionable insights, empowering companies to identify the right physicians to target, determine the most effective marketing strategies and ultimately improve patient care.

The company targets millennials, who have been at the forefront of change in other industries. Zoom is designed for an imaginary patient named Sarah, who is in her early 30s and wants to get her healthcare the same way she gets other services in her life — quickly and efficiently.

The waiting rooms clearly illustrate that dynamic: There are no magazines because patients don’t typically wait long enough to read.

Zoom started as a single clinic in Portland 10 years ago and now has more than 30 locations. Last year, the company expanded in Portland and now offers dental care, mental health services and chronic disease management, as well as appointments with cardiologists, dermatologists and other specialists.

It also opened a “performance studio” to help people reach their fitness goals and a clinic that treats emergencies such as broken bones and concussions.

This year, Zoom began selling insurance through the Oregon health exchange. Sanders said that by having insurance members of its own, Zoom will be able to better assess its success at controlling expenses and improving care.

Only about 2,500 have signed up for Zoom’s insurance, Sanders said. He hopes to expand the insurance arm over time and believes the overall model could be replicated in other cities.

In some ways, Zoom is similar to Kaiser Permanente, which also provides medical care and insurance.

But Kaiser is a closed system: It only accepts Kaiser members. Zoom is more of a hybrid, treating not only Zoom insurance members but people with other health plans and self-paying patients as well. As a result, the company is both a partner and a competitor to some other insurers.

Of course, Kaiser is also a healthcare giant that operates in multiple states, while Zoom is much smaller and regionally contained.

People covered by Zoom insurance can get care at Zoom medical facilities or with Zoom partners, including Oregon Health & Science University hospitals.

In recent years, more healthcare providers have been offering insurance, but the vast majority of them are hospital systems, said Katherine Hempstead, director of coverage for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

It’s unique for a network of retail clinics to add an insurance arm, and Zoom’s model is distinct because it is selling a branded experience to a specific population, Hempstead said. One Zoom poster says the complete health system is “designed to make you happier, healthier, smarter, faster, sexier, creativer.”

Hempstead said Zoom seems to be betting on the idea that young people are brand-loyal and view health much more broadly. As a result, they may be coming to Zoom not only to see a doctor but also to work with a fitness coach, get therapy or take cooking classes.

“It’s a totally new-school approach,” she said. “A company like this is saying, ‘We will be the destination of everything you think of when you want to stay healthy.’ The question is: Will the economics work out?”

That could be a challenge given how saturated the Portland insurance market is, said Sabrina Corlette, a research professor at Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute. And some insurers on the exchange are much more established.

In addition, millennials aren’t typically heavy users of the healthcare system, though many come for regular checkups, she said. Zoom’s success as an insurer depends in part on convincing young people that insurance “is a valuable thing for them to get and maintain,” Corlette said. Attracting young, healthy consumers also helps balance out any older, sicker members.

Other healthcare companies are marketing to millennials also, including New York-based insurer Oscar, which attracts younger consumers with its user-friendly technology. Oscar started selling coverage through Covered California this year. Harken Health, a subsidiary of UnitedHealthcare, assigns members in Chicago and Atlanta to a personal health coach, and — like Zoom — it also offers classes in cooking and yoga.

Dr. Darcy Hoyt, a veterinarian, said she signed up for Zoom insurance after regularly using the clinics for the past few years. The monthly premiums to cover her and her two children are lower than what her previous insurer charged, and she appreciates knowing in advance how much everything will cost.

“So far, so good,” Hoyt said. “For the relatively young, healthy families with kids falling off bikes and getting common colds, it’s very streamlined.”

The model appeals to people who want a different approach to medicine that doesn’t have the “vestigial appendices of a healthcare system that has been around for 50 years,” said John McConnell, director of Oregon Health & Science University’s Center for Health Systems Effectiveness.

Photo: Zoom+

 

Anna Gorman is a senior correspondent for KHN based in Los Angeles. She joined from the Los Angeles Times, where she worked for nearly 15 years covering health care, immigration and the Mexican border.

This post appears through the MedCity Influencers program. Anyone can publish their perspective on business and innovation in healthcare on MedCity News through MedCity Influencers. Click here to find out how.