After attending the Free Market Medical Association’s (FMMA) annual conference, I realized that my outlook on our healthcare crisis has been misguided. For too long I grappled with larger than life topics: Medicare, Medicaid, the ACA, and others occupied my mind as the most pressing issues. While that mentality brought with it an energizing sense of urgency, the magnitude of these matters makes it an impossible task for any one person. The speakers at FMMA set aside the politics, rolled up their sleeves, and effected change in their respective fields.
Direct primary care (DPC) has been leading the charge, and it was encouraging to speak to DPC doctors at FMMA about their experiences and this delivery model’s success. Beyond that, I did not anticipate the number of speakers who have applied free market principles into thriving specialty care practices. The talks given by these physicians have inspired and given me hope that embracing markets is not a mindset that has to be relegated to only primary care. It is more than just a possibility; these pioneers at FMMA have made it a reality today.
One of my favorite panels at the conference showcased a number of specialists innovating in their private practices. Dr. Dwayne Schmidt, a cardiologist, set up a cardiovascular clinic that provides cardiovascular and interventional radiology procedures efficiently and effectively in an outpatient setting. In the context of burgeoning hospital systems and dwindling private practices, Dr. Schmidt’s talk has renewed my faith in decentralizing healthcare delivery.
Along with Dr. Schmidt, I was impressed with the market innovations Jack Brown and his wife, Dr. Kathy Brown have made with the Oregon Coast Dermatology clinic. By building on the success of DPC’s price
transparency and eschewing third party providers, the Browns devised a prorated billing scheme with three simple tiers for their cost structure. I admit I was skeptical of the ability to scale up DPC models to specialty care, but the Browns and other FMMA speakers like Dr. Keith Smith allayed my fears.
Surgery as a specialty is of particular interest to me, and I was blown away by the Surgery Center of Oklahoma that Dr. Smith built. It was a privilege – and the highlight of the FMMA conference – to tour the outpatient facility and witness market solutions establishing a foothold even in surgical settings.
FMMA exposed me to healthcare providers and promising solutions that are laying the groundwork today for the future of healthcare. I cannot recommend this conference highly enough to anyone interested in healthcare progress in spite of the politics.