Satori Files For Bankruptcy: What that Means for Medical Travel

As reported last month by US Domestic Medical Travel.com, Satori World Medical, Inc., a company based in San Diego, filed for bankruptcy.

When news of this story broke, I inquired with my contact at US Domestic Medical Travel.com to learn what this meant for the patent Satori had taken out that had a chokehold on the growth and development of the medical travel sector, both domestic and international.

Her reply was that she was not sure, so I looked up what happens when a company goes bankrupt. Most of the information concerned companies who manufactured products and what happens to the patents to those products after a bankruptcy. The gist of what I found was that they transfer to the receivers/liquidators.

But since Satori’s patent is for an idea, and not a tangible asset like manufactured goods or inventory, I doubt the receivers/liquidators for this action would be willing to take this asset. What would they do with it?

So, instead of wondering, because that may be a fruitless exercise, let’s look at what the patent was all about, what it allowed and did not allow, and then you can decide how best to model your business plan going forward.

The Satori patent, trademarked as the “Health & Shared Wealth Program”, is actually two patents; the first, U.S. Patent 8160897, titled the “Satori Integrated Health & Financial Benefits System and Method” and U.S. Patent 8224668, a Continuation-in-Part to Patent No. 8162897.

They are part of a portfolio of other patents of intellectual property that regard the calculating and sharing of the dollar savings from a medical travel health benefit. The patents provided Satori with exclusive rights to the only permissible medical shared savings model in the medical travel industry.

I know what you all are thinking, how can anyone patent an idea such as this? Isn’t this restraint of trade, you may wonder?

Well, as I am not a patent attorney, nor an intellectual property expert either, I would think not, except that was the case before the bankruptcy.

As Satori’s own website states, the Health & Shared Wealth Program supports organizations by lowering their cost structure for health benefits by providing plan members with a highly-valued benefit option at no cost to the plan sponsor or members.

The parent patent, they continue, is a system and method that calculates the savings generated when a patient selects medical care outside the US.

It waves all co-pays, deductibles, and/or co-insurance, making the selection of outbound medical care a 100% medical benefit for the patient. In addition, it shares the savings between the patient and the insurer/employer.

I want to stop here in the explanation of the patent to tell you my idea, and why this patent seems to me to be a restraint of trade issue and a virtual monopoly.

My idea was to implement medical travel into workers’ compensation in the US, and along the way, after writing my paper on the subject, and this blog, I learned from other individuals that the best way to do so was to offer an financial incentive from the savings to the claimant/patient from either his employer or insurance carrier.

At the same time, I learned from one individual, that in order for this to be advantageous, the savings had to be greater than $5,000 for medical care received outside the US. So for example, if a knee surgery in the US cost $30,000, in order to convince an employer or insurance company of the efficacy of outbound medical travel, the cost of that knee surgery would have to be $25,000 or less.

How much the claimant/patient would receive and when and how they would receive it is a matter of discussion. It could be a percentage of the savings, a flat-rate of say, $2,000 or $2,500, or come from the overall settlement of the claim, but that could take years to realize.

Returning to the patent, the Health & Shared Wealth Program, Satori states, precludes certain entities such as medical travel/medical tourism facilitators (I bet you are hoping mad at this point; I sympathize), health plans, self-funded and fully insured employers, Taft-Hartley trusts (labor unions), unions, workers’ compensation carriers (this got me mad), municipalities, pension plans, etc., from offering any shared savings model similar to the one described above to their clients and/or plan members without written permission from Satori (now you must be steaming!!!!).

So, what does this mean? If Satori is out of business, we can all take a sigh of relief that now the wicked witch of the west (Satori) is dead. What comes next is up to you. Prior to the announcement, there were ways to get around the patent’s restriction. Now, that may not be necessary.

My suggestion is get yourselves some good IP attorneys to see if you are good to go, and if you are given the green light, adjust your business model and plan accordingly. You will only benefit from the fall of the house of Satori.

 

Advertisements

6 thoughts on “Satori Files For Bankruptcy: What that Means for Medical Travel

  1. Benjamin Simons

    Hi Richard: I know of several entities that incentivizes outbound medical travel for self-funded entities. I do not believe that the patents held by Satori stopped other organizations making a “go at it” in delivering true cost savings models, in fact most of the other key players within this market are all doing it to some extent. The most recent leaders of the company made every effort to correct mistakes made in the past, they in fact were one of the very few who actually were providing services to the self funded community, and their (Satori’s) clients actually implemented and utilized the medical travel benefit.

    Kind regards,
    Benjamin Simons – Int’l Director / Broker
    Global Protective Solutions
    Custom Assurance Placements, Ltd.

    Like

    Reply
  2. Transforming Workers' Comp Post author

    That may be true, but I think it inhibited the US insurance industry from fully embracing it as an option, There may be other reasons, but you must admit, the patent had a chilling effect. No one would want to get permission to do business from another business. Walmart certainly doesn’t, otherwise, mom and pop stores would complain and stop them from taking business away. A town in Texas is losing their Walmart market, and that store caused a small grocery store to go out of business when it came in. So Satori did have an impact, and now there may be better days ahead.

    Like

    Reply
    1. Benjamin Simons

      I seriously doubt that the patent had much if any effect on organizations embracing medical travel for the US market, as a matter of fact I have never heard anyone bring it up as a reason not to do medical travel. I hope you prove me wrong, and now the American market can finally be free to use medical travel as a silver bullet.

      Like

      Reply
  3. Transforming Workers' Comp Post author

    I think the small fry’s have been hurt, they usually are when a big company “corners” a market. Hey, I may be wrong too, but it is just what I think may be a reason for the reluctance, for the lack of real movement from employers and carriers, and from facilitators to capitalize on the definite cost savings that medical travel offers. I do agree with your last statement, that is why I wrote the piece.

    Like

    Reply
  4. Benjamin Simons

    I think your impression of Satori being some kind of massive and dominating corporation may be off a lot. The reluctance is not due to Satori dominating the medical travel industry in the US, if that were the case they would not have filed for bankruptcy. The reluctance is that the US healthcare industry is so incredibly and unnecessarily complicated, and that thinking outside of the box is too damn scary. Those that do think outside the box and who march to a different drummer will be awarded with far less costly care, better results, and happier employees.

    Like

    Reply
  5. Transforming Workers' Comp Post author

    Well, I do think outside the box, but so far not seeing any rewards for my efforts. I will tell you, if I hadn’t already, that the person who gave me my idea for my paper in the first place was a lawyer with Satori at that time, and I have not ascertained her role in the patent application or awarding.

    Like

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s