Medicine Back to the Barber Shop

Haircut, and Would you Like Heart Checkup Too?

By Dr. Nick van Terheyden aka Dr. Nick
Twitter: @drnic1
Host of Dr. Nick: The Incrementalist#TheIncrementalist

On this episode I talked to Andrew Suggs, Co-Founder of Live-Chair (@livechairinc) – addressing healthcare disparities through the community of trusted barbers and barbershops (long the center of medicine and in particular surgery). The company started out providing scheduling and customer management tools to the many barbershops around the country but thanks to some personal healthcare challenges have moved to provide health screenings for barbershop patrons that include preventive care and disease management support.

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Andrew went to Clafin University on a Basketball scholarship and worked for the Houston Astros before moving into supply logistics. Like many entrepreneurs, he was looking to solve problems identifying a need in the Barbershop world that is mostly staffed with Independent contractors who get little infrastructure or support from the stores they work in.

When his father fell ill he followed the trail of health failures that contributed to his hypertension discovering the big health disparities that exist for Blacks in America (Being Black in America Can Be Hazardous to Your Health).

Fixing Health Disparities One Incremental Nudge at a Time
They started with an early pilot and an important Incremental Step: Customer Discovery learning what the personal drivers were for the community of barbers and their patrons. They built a tool to capture blood pressure and ask some basic questions on health status, current healthcare coverage including any primary care physicians, and importantly offered nudges (incremental steps) to help correct deficiencies. For example, if the customer reported they did not have a primary care physician they would offer up a network of local providers promoting them to register with a local doctor.

They achieved a participation rate that any organization, healthcare, or otherwise would be ecstatic to have – 98%! As Andrew explains this was built on their 3 core principles of AIR:

  • Access
  • Influence
  • Regularity

In the barbershop, the influence is coming from a trusted messenger, akin to your “best friend” and comes with the accompanying message:

“We don’t just want you to look good, but also to feel good and be healthy”

Listen in to hear how they have adjusted to COVID19 with their solution and the ongoing nudges and how they are maintaining engagement, the expansion into hair salons, and some exciting potential partnership with a local integrated health system.

About the Show
For years Dr. Nick van Terheyden aka Dr. Nick, has served as a voice on the impact of new technologies on healthcare, earning a reputation as a leading authority on where the future of medicine is going. Combining powers of observation and real world experience, Dr. Nick has seen many predictions come true and makes the case that innovations in healthcare can be accomplished incrementally, not just by moonshot events. Tune in to hear Dr. Nick: The Incrementalist and his guests discuss what the future of healthcare looks like, how we will get there, and what it will take to improve healthcare for all.

This article was originally published on the Dr. Nick – The Incrementalist blog and is republished here with permission.