Introducing Club Caduceus… An Exclusive Membership Only Patient Service. Want to be a VIP?

Jackie was excited. She had planned and saved up for a dream vacation to France for over a year. Her bags were packed, her Uber booked for a late afternoon Thursday pickup. Her itinerary was set for the next two weeks exploring the French wine regions.

At 8 AM Thursday, she was in  the bathroom and BAM! An undeniable burning signaling the onset of yet another UTI. Jackie was well familiar with the drill—she suffered from UTI’s several times a year, and twice before they progressed to true kidney infections requiring IV antibiotics. From her experience she needed Macrobid –and she needed it NOW. She simply couldn’t risk leaving the country for two weeks with an untreated UTI. 

The last time this happened, she had difficulty accessing her doctor, and even the urgent care provider would not agree to give her Macrobid. She was given Bactrim first, which of course didn’t work. She had to fight the system to find a doctor to review her chart, and finally prescribe the meds she needed. Phones went unanswered and emails told her to wait for a response. Live chat wasn’t working on her computer that day.

Panicked, Jackie reached out to a friend who worked at Caduceus (let’s call her Tammy) and begged–is there any way to get an prescription for Macrobid NOW so she was covered for her trip? Tammy immediately said “I’m on it.”

She showed her chart to several providers, finding one who agreed to write her Macrobid. Tammy arranged a quick video visit, pre-checked Jackie in, allowing her to walk into PDQ, skip the lobby, give the nurse a urine sample- and have the medication called in- all before noon. 

Jackie emailed Caduceus to thank Tammy. Navigating the system on her own likely would have failed…causing her to cancel her trip or take off with an untreated UTI.

How did we as health care consumers allow this system to evolve on us?? Since 2001, patient satisfaction with their health care delivery has plummeted. A recent Gallup poll showed over 2/3rds of people are not satisfied with their health care. We are not talking about the actual diagnosing and treating—that appears to be acceptable. Most patients truly love and trust their doctors.

It is the delivery–the access.

The waits.

The navigation. 

That has caused a nightmare for us.

Of note is that at the start of this century 2/3rds of us WERE satisfied. A complete about face in the last 20 years.

Between government bureaucracy going on steroids, health plans drunk with power, and corporate health care “systems” taking over private practices, we are left with being Jackie–a dream vacation held hostage. 

Because what the average health care consumer does not know:

  • Tammy had to check with the health plan only to find that Macrobid was not the “drug of choice”. The pharmacy needed evidence she had failed Bactrim. Had Tammy not found a doctor to agree to skip Bactrim and showed proof of Bactrim’s failure, Jackie could not have filled the Macrobid before her afternoon Uber.
  • Also to fulfill bureaucratic rules, Jackie needed BOTH an office visit AND a urinalysis. By going onto the video visit master schedule and moving some appointments around slightly, she got Jackie in for her office visit. 
  • But to walk into PDQ, check in, and convince them she didn’t need to see the doctor and just leave, a urinalysis may have been difficult. Tammy arranged all of that behind the scenes.
  • ALSO, Tammy called in the medication as soon as the urine lab was done so that Jackie could pick it by noon. In the usual model the medication may not have been called in until late in the day.

Yes, current health care delivery has issues.

What are the issues?

No question bureaucracy has become out of control.  The more obstacles, the more difficult access is. 

Waits increase.

Referrals are denied. 

Refills become onerous. 

And the art and science of medical coding makes deciphering what you owe out of reach for the common person.

First, just knowing who to call and how to best reach them is a huge challenge.

  • The front office knows nothing about referrals.
  • The back office knows little about EOB’s.  
  • The appointment line knows nothing about coding. 
  • And the main operator knows little about—well, let’s be honest– just about anything. 

Second, once you reach them, there are waits–or messages—or unanswered emails—-or worse, no response at all.  

All of this is avoidable. 

You all just need to call Tammy.

One small problem-there aren’t many Tammy’s in the wonderful world of health care. 

Tammy’s need to have a lot of experience. It would have helped if Tammy’s had worked many different jobs in healthcare. And in the case of Caduceus, Tammy needs to know the Orange County Health Care Market inside out

If it sounds like we are recommending a concierge type practice – far from it. In that model the patient pays between $2000-3000 a year and the doctors keep a very small panel of patients. They also hire minimal staff. And that staff are not necessarily trained to do everything Tammy did for Jackie.

Paying for a “concierge” doctor will not really solve the issue of having one contact person to help you through the complex healthcare jungle.

So–(using my best Rod Serling Twilight Zone voice)-

“Submitted for your approval- Imagine, if you will, a club so futuristic its likes cannot be imagined by current health care systems. A club with no activities, no sports, no music.

A club dedicated to navigating you through the uncharted waters of a damaged waterway. It is a club between the heavens of good health and horrors of health care access.  You are invited to enter the world of- “Club Caduceus.”

The “secret sauce” of Club Caduceus is arranging to have you communicate directly to your Health Host for virtually any healthcare related issue.

Members will have access to their private cell phone -if they are helping another patient, they will answer the voicemail promptly or preferably respond to a text.

Members will call their Health Host to make an appointment. The cool thing is they can ask for a specific doctor on a specific day and a specific time. If it is humanly possible your Health Host will arrange it for you. Think of it like getting tickets for a sold out concert.

If it’s not possible to accommodate your request, you will be given multiple options to assist. They will even ask how long your appointment should be. If you have a simple cold, you may feel you want the visit to be fairly quick. But if you want to discuss options for your newly diagnosed prediabetes you may ask for a longer than normal appointment

But wait–there’s more!

The member may call their Health Host for questions about their account or problems with their health plan. The Health Host will act as the patient advocate in fixing all these issues. 

And don’t get me started on referral issues. Referrals can be approved but many weeks after a referral is put through. The referral may be denied and then you could use assistance in appealing that referral. Or the insurance might have many questions that need to be answered that the Health Host can expedite. The Health Host will know the right language and what referrals could be expedited and approved vs. what referrals have little chance.

Members may call their Health Host for refill issues. Especially when they took their last pill today without realizing the bottle would be empty tomorrow.

Members who need to reach their doctor for a question or simple message- (and you want to be sure they get it), the Health Host will be sure it’s delivered and answered.

One of the biggest concerns Caduceus has heard recently was the discontinuation of their phlebotomy services due to reimbursement issues.

With the revenue afforded from the Club dues, Caduceus will be able to provide blood drawing services on site for Club members. Considering the long waits at LabCorp and Quest, this perk may pay for itself.

Speaking of dues, let me read your mind:

$188 a year.


$18 a month.

Less than ordering a latte a week.

Less than a monthly lunch at Jersey Mike’s.

And yes- there are discount plans for couples, families, and long-time loyal patients and hardship cases.

Best of all–you will have your OWN, personal Health Host–and will be on a first name basis with them. They will be trained in all facets of the health care maze. And be given powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal staff. 

Let’s end with another true story that happened during the beta phase of the Club. This involves Bobbi. 

Bobbi was on the East Coast in January for her son’s wedding. She awoke 24 hours prior to her flight home to John Wayne with the worst back pain she ever had–and she had birthed two babies.

After a long wait in the nearby ER, Bobbi was diagnosed with a kidney stone. But not just any boring normal kidney stone. This one was about the size of a softball (ok maybe a bit smaller). She was not going to pass it. She needed it removed surgically.

Here the horror story of health care delivery begins. 

The ER doc wouldn’t release Bobbi except to the care of a urologist. He managed to convince one to come to the ER, but his schedule was booked out four weeks.

The urologist would not discharge Bobbi until he had a “peer-to-peer” talk with her in Orange County–trouble is Bobbi had never needed a urologist. And how could she find one and still make her flight home in the morning? 

She made one right decision; she contacted Live Chat on the Caduceus website. Guess who Live Chat called to the rescue? Yup-Tammy!

The first three urologists Tammy called refused to talk to a urologist on the east coast about a patient they never had seen. Plus, Bobbi couldn’t even get in to see any urologist for 3-6 weeks.

But Tammy had a few favors to call in. And by midafternoon, she obtained copies of Bobbi’s ER tests and scans, sent them to a urologist she convinced to help, arranged the “peer to peer” talk, arranged a noon appt with the OC urologist, arranged for an Uber to pick up Bobbi at John Wayne just after her 11:20 am flight landed, and drove her straight to the urologist. 

The urologist saw how large the stone was, booked the surgery promptly, and Bobbi ended up just fine, thank you. Tammy also made sure Bobbi had a few pain killers in her husband’s carry on for the flight- just in case.

Without a Health Host, Bobbi would have possibly been stranded on the East Coast with a kidney stone that wasn’t passable, with a surgery booked out many weeks. 

We give you our cover of Fred Astaire’s tune:

If you’re blue and you don’t know where to go to,
Why don’t you go where Tammy sits?
Puttin’ on the Ritz.

Jackie and Bobbi will both agree. It was the best $188 they ever spent.