Telemedicine and on-demand healthcare services were still in their infancy in the months leading up to the start of the global coronavirus crisis. But once coronavirus hit, both were thrust to the forefront. Telemedicine became a necessity for GPs, family doctors, and even specialists. On-demand services were an instant big hit with consumers. As a provider or consumer, how do you feel about this new medical paradigm?
Every industry evolves over time, though some evolve slower than others. The interesting thing about healthcare is that it has historically been slow to adopt technology that would make it more efficient. Thus, the reluctance to adopt telemedicine prior to the start of the pandemic.
Now that coronavirus has forced us to take a fresh look at how we deliver healthcare services, both telemedicine and on-demand healthcare appear here to stay. So again, how do you feel about it all?
App-Based Primary Care
The face of on-demand healthcare delivery might very well be app-based primary care. Though still emerging, patients now have access to a number of app-based businesses providing on-demand primary care through mobile devices. The premise is quite simple. It relies on doctors, advanced practice nurses, and specialists providing mobile consultations.
Participating providers sign up with an app-based service. Meanwhile, consumers download a service’s mobile app to their phones. The moment they are in need of primary care, they log on to the app and select a provider. Within minutes they are consulting with that provider by way of videoconferencing. At the conclusion of the call, clinicians with prescribing authority can write prescriptions before sending patients on their way.
Diagnostic Medical Kiosks
It is a given that some consumers will not want to access on-demand primary care through their mobile phones. But many of them will take advantage of diagnostic medical kiosks, like those produced by CSI Health. These are kiosks that offer diagnostic equipment including glucometers, blood pressure cuffs, digital stethoscopes, infrared thermometers, and even ultrasound and sonogram equipment.
Combine diagnostic tools with videoconferencing and you have the possibility to offer remote patient visits providing the same level of care patients would get in an office. Clinicians can build entire remote clinics or contract for individual kiosks in key locations.
Retail Health Clinics
Yet another emerging model is a retail health clinic staffed by a registered nurse or nurse practitioner. Equipped with remote diagnostic equipment and other telemedicine capabilities, clinics can offer both primary and urgent care. Clinic staff can easily deal with routine problems on their own. More serious issues can be resolved through a combination of clinic staff and telemedicine options.
States that have given nurse practitioners and physician assistants greater latitude in providing primary care are seeing a surge in retail health clinics. The model may not sit well with GPs and family doctors, but patients seem to appreciate it.
Healthcare Delivery Has Changed
For better or worse, coronavirus has forever changed how healthcare services are delivered in the modern era. The medical community can no longer deny the appeal or benefits of telemedicine. They have no choice but to acknowledge that consumers appreciate on-demand primary care offered through mobile solutions. They have to deal with the fact that the retail health clinic is here to stay.
How do you feel about all of this? Are you on board with the direction healthcare seems to be going? If so, you are among that group of people expected to derive the most benefit from new delivery systems. If not, the next few years could be a bumpy ride for you.