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A $89 doctor visit - and that's just the start

All appointments for ZoomClinic are set up through a web site.

All appointments for ZoomClinic are set up through a web site.

In addition to designing a good customer experience, ZoomCare is lobbying the Oregon legislature to improve the odds of success for its neighborhood clinic business model.

Founded in 2006 by Dr. Dave Sanders, ZoomCare provides a flat $140 rate for clinical visits and $89 for telecare appointments. It serves the “walking well,” and strives to become an integral part of the neighborhoods it deliberately situates itself within. Its target customer is a 33-year-old tech savvy female, with one to two children, and an income of around 50K. To her, it provides “care when she wants it, where she wants it, at a fair price, and delivered to her in the palm of her hand, with guaranteed satisfaction,” said David Ray, ZoomCare’s manager of operations.

ZoomCare also developed its own EMR and scheduling platform, and it does not partner with clinician-referring sites like ZocDoc.

Working outside the system while building a unique system for its particular operations means it must negotiate. It has successfully lobbied for Oregon law to change from a five-to-one ratio of physician assistants being overseen by doctors to, in 2010, an eight-to-one ratio. Additionally, it has helped to make it so physician assistants have the authority to dispense certain medications.

Where ZoomCare is particularly unique is in telemedicine. With the Telehealth Alliance of Oregon, ZoomCare proposed a bill in the February legislation to require private insurance companies to pay for Skype diagnoses. Currently 20 other states

allow physicians to bill insurers for care delivered remotely by services like Skype. Hospital associations successfully delayed the bill on the grounds of misleading language. Though companies like Kaiser Permanente have already integrated telemedicine into their system, many are reluctant because of its promise to drive primary and urgent care costs down.

ZoomCare also offers healthcare and third party administration services for employers with 50 or more employees. The services include neighborhood clinics and telemedicine visits, plan administration and support, and plans that include consumer incentives and transparent pricing.

Functioning outside of the healthcare grid, however, is getting the company mixed reviews, and not just from the powers that be. Rapid growth means resources are allocated toward that growth, as opposed to towards staff. Glassdoor reviews from people who worked for ZoomClinic reports include more than a few disgruntled employees.

On Yelp the consensus seems the same across state borders and towns: There are people who absolutely love ZoomCare, and people who absolutely hate the company. Haters include people whose insurance didn’t pay up quickly enough — or at all — or who got a series of lab tests without full disclosure of the cost (or insurance coverage). ZoomCare can’t take all the blame for these problems. Insurance companies are being asked to change their methods and patients are being asked to change their expectations.

Despite these mixed reviews, and with minimal advertising and marketing, ZoomCare has gone from seven to 24 clinics, and there are six more opening this year. Currently, it serves patients in Portland, Salem, Vancouver, and Seattle, and hopes to extend its services to California.


Category: Insurance Reviews

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