Retail Telehealth: Positively Disruptive!
With the rapid evolution of the health care industry, health care delivery organizations – whether medical clinics, hospitals, or insurance companies – are constantly looking for innovative solutions to meet economic and operational challenges.
Telemedicine – using high-quality, real-time video encounters between patients and providers over the Internet – is a powerful tool that can support healthier patients and bottom lines.
Telemedicine aims to provide care anytime, anywhere, on any type of device—be it a web browser, a mobile phone or tablet, or a kiosk. When telemedicine is integrated into an existing health care system, patients have access to on-demand care securely from quality providers with a simple point and click.
The result? Fewer logistics, less traveling, avoidance of wait times, and reduction of expensive urgent care visits.
Given this transformative technology, a patient’s location and mobility does not limit the scope or quality of care. The need to travel to a physical facility is no longer an assumed requirement or a barrier to the provider or patient.
Enlightened companies, including pharmacies like Walgreens and CVS, are opening up not just their “minute clinics” and making basic services like vaccinations available, but are also starting to use telemedicine within their retail stores so patients can visit with a doctor hundreds, or thousands of miles away, including specialists, at their favorite pharmacy.
These retailers are investing in infrastructure and software which deliver extensive telehealth platforms, with on-call specialists who can be brought in for specific needs, including initial diagnoses of certain conditions.
Powered by the convenience, ease, and affordability of telehealth, providers, and patients are no longer be burdened by office hours, or the longstanding paradigm that patients bear the responsibility of physically traveling to the care they require.
Retail telehealth solutions support both patients and caregivers as they navigate the modern-day health care landscape together and create new revenue streams for retail pharmacies.
Walgreens today is charging $49 per visit, offering “Next time skip the waiting room. Video chat with a U.S. board-certified physician who can treat common illnesses like sinus and ear infections, sore throats, and skin problems, 24/7. Doctors can even write prescriptions, if necessary.” Their “MDLive” platform also helps patients connect with live doctors on their phone, online through video chat – even in their homes.
New mergers in the healthcare space, like last December’s $69 billion Aetna and CVS takeover, are poised to give telemedicine a huge boost, according to an analysis by CNBC health and technology reporter Christina Farr. Although telemedicine has been around for nearly 10 years, it has yet to become a household name among consumers. But through partnerships with tech giants, prominent healthcare namesakes are helping it gain recognition, Ms. Farr argues.
When striking the deal with pharmacy giant CVS, Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini reiterated the benefits of remote monitoring technologies, including Bluetooth-connected glucose meters coupled with apps for virtual providers that alert patients when their blood sugar levels are off, as a vital part of his strategy — one that will improve care and lower costs.
Telemedicine’s big year? This year. This moment!
All providers of healthcare are wise to take notice, and begin planning and rolling out their own solutions – healthier for all in the circle of care.
Imagine what it is like to struggle with mental illness – and the effort required to seek help, get to in-person consultations, and the costs associated with going to therapy. Even when insurance and Medicaid, for example, helps coordinate and pay for care, getting around physically can be daunting for those challenged.
Telemedicine is arguably the hottest trend in healthcare, with consumers more willing than ever to see a doctor remotely.
In a national study by The Alliance for Connected Care, polling more than 2,000 consumers, 64% said they would be willing to have a telehealth visit with their doctor via video.
The Internet of Things is embracing not only technical industries but other fields as well. IoT has the potential to reach areas where it has never been before, which opens up new opportunities for creative implementation.