Industry Update
Opinion Article31 May 2019

A Dog-Eat-Dog Business, Part 9 - The Life of a Hotel Doctor

By Mike Oppenheim, MD

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Oppenheim

I keep an eye on the competition, and recently an internet search turned up International Medical Services (not its real name) which promised to send a highly qualified doctor to a home, office, or hotel at a moment's notice. When I phoned, its medical director knew my name, having dealt with me at previous jobs.

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Like all new arrivals, he insisted that business was thriving. In fact, as we spoke, a hotel guest needed a visit, and I was welcome to go. I asked about the fee.

"We charge between $1600 and $2000. The doctor gets half."

"Guests won't pay that!"

"We don't have trouble. These people have travel insurance."

He suggested I quote $1200 and then add a few hundred dollars for medicines and supplies. That was their doctors' routine.

I visited a young woman at the Hampton Inn with a simple urine infection. She handed over her credit card without complaint.

That felt creepy. I mailed $600 with a note asking him not to call again.

The Hampton Inn is not an upscale hotel. How did he persuade its staff to refer guests? My legal advisor warns me not to speculate.

Mike Oppenheim

In his regular column "The Life of a Hotel Doctor", Mike Oppenheim shares remarkable stories around visiting hotel guests as a doctor. When he began as a hotel doctor during the 1980s, only luxury hotels had a “house doctor,” usually a local practitioner who did it as a sideline. Nowadays, in a large city even the lowliest motel receives blandishments from a dozen individuals plus several agencies that send moonlighting doctors if they can find one.

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