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Thunder Medical Launches Platform to Improve Health Care for Underserved

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A new American Indian-owned health care firm, Thunder Medical, LLC, aims to help people of remote, underserved communities access financially sustainable health care.

Thunder Medical was the brainchild of Jet Parker (Comanche), a former marketer and researcher with a background in health and fitness. "As a researcher, I kept noticing the same challenges for the health industry in rural markets"--in financing, building, equipping, staffing, operating and educating.

"Especially in Native American markets with the high rates of diabetes, heart disease, obesity, asthma, premature infant death and suicide--there has been hardly any improvement. My question was why?"

Parker realized the services needed for these rural communities were not financially sustainable. "People are trying to solve a rural problem with an urban fit," she told Indian Country Today Media Network.

So Parker reached out to a financial specialist (Lyle Carpenter), a health care financial forensic specialist (Robert "Bob" Hicks) and brought in another American Indian (Jeff Estep, Choctaw, with 30 years experience in information technology: consulting and staffing) to better understand that specific market and government contracting.

Thus, Thunder Medical was conceived. The company connects rural clinics with the best providers. "If the clinic cannot provide it in-house, we find a conduit," Parker said. "We leverage the buying power of giant companies" to take care of their clients with better prices and support.

In a nutshell, Thunder Medical's approach is to apply a six-part strategy platform (see graphic) to reduce costs. The company's news release states its method decreases facility construction costs by 28 percent. Collections are increased by 20 percent; it optimizes buying power for medical supplies and improves profitability by as much as 35 percent.

Parker cited a simple example of how the company helps optimize buying power. She explained a rural clinic may need to buy syringes to treat patients with diabetes. They typically have to purchase a case, even though they may only use 1/8 of a box per month. "Our program lets them buy one box, rather than a case, to save money and space," Parker explained.

The Oklahoma-based company is currently assisting four state tribes, as well as Wisconsin-, New Mexico- and Texas-based tribes.

The company has approached Alaska-based tribes and rural communities and intends to branch out nationwide. The company tackles each communities' issues with a personalized, customized approach. "We don't offer a cookie-cutter approach," Parker said. "Each tribe has different challenges. Sometimes they don't have money, sometimes they don't have the infrastructure to get supplies. We come in and crunch the numbers."

Parker firmly believes in the company's "Teach not tell; serve not sell" philosophy. "If we serve your needs, you only get what you really need," she said.

For more information about the firm's services, visit