The field of medicine is ever evolving. The first doctors walked from village to village to see their patients. In the old west, doctors dropped everything to saddle their horse, rode the range and got to their patient’s home as fast as they could. The invention of the buggy and then eventually the automobile allowed them to travel safer, faster, and farther. Today distance and time are no longer even factors. Doctors will appear on our TVs, phones, tablets and even our watches…just another step toward “quick and convenient” medicine. But simple and easy is not always the best medicine. Convenience is good…but quality is better.
In 2014, Dr. Phil McGraw and his son Jay raised over $21 million to help start Doctor on Demand, an online healthcare platform where “consumers can access in under three minutes a physician from a smartphone or a desktop.” It’s no surprise that with their combined audience of millions from The Dr. Phil Show and The Doctors, which Jay produces, that their “dial a doc” platform has generated a lot of buzz in the past several months.
It’s important to first acknowledge that the idea is not a bad one. The Doctor on Demand system touts over 1400 physicians available to consult with patients and drastically reduces the cost of care. With 64% of the population receptive to online medical care, it would be alarming if no one was making a mass market play for these dollars.
But can a large system like this offer the value that patients expect? What is a medical clinic or hospital system to do in the face of this online competition?
There is hope, as the type of systems Doctor on Demand and others like it have put together, leave quite a bit of room for improvement. According to Dr. Daniel Carlin, president of a health concierge service called World Clinic,
“Many of the big telemedicine companies are not care providers. They are marketing companies with big marketing budgets that have built a network of subcontracted physicians willing to receive a patient phone call. There is a broad range of quality among these doctors. This is not surprising given that the doctor earns, on average, $20 per call.”
Given all this, where are the opportunities for improvement? What would a next level telemedicine practice look like? To start it should focus on three main components.
Dive deeper into Doctor on Demand and you’ll notice that they tout “more than 1,000 doctors available for video consultants one or two days a week.” Of the 1000 plus physicians in the Doctor on Demand system, the website profiles 18 of them. Physician choice is not a part of the equation in these systems and a recent Harris Poll relates that 88% of consumers want to select their doctor and only 12% are willing to be randomly assigned one.
Developing a system that has the ability to personalize care to the individual has innate advantages. The random “dial a doc” process is hardly an equation for a consistent doctor patient relationship. Even if the patient is cared for by a small team when 24/7/365 access to a single physician is just not feasible, the practice should be able to leverage electronic health records to deliver care with “a broad/holistic understanding of each client/patient.”
Consistent Technology Experiences
Imagine a network of over 1000 doctors answering randomized calls forwarded to them by a system like Doctor on Demand. Depending on where the physician is at and what device they pick up the call from, there is the potential for a wide swing in the quality of that consultation. Everything from bad WiFi, poor cell service, or even differences in the quality of cameras on their devices can all adversely affect the calls.
Creating a system that utilizes high quality microphones and HD cameras in quiet, dedicated spaces with reliable high speed internet connections assures that the patient experience is consistent. Developing a policy and set of standards for devices used by the doctors in remote locations can also help mitigate differences in the quality of care form call to call and patient to patient.
It is apparent that the future of healthcare includes the continued adoption of telemedicine in one form or another. The opportunity for medical practices and healthcare systems is in developing systems that offer more value than their mass market counterparts. Building a system that incorporates physician choice, that is patient centered, and delivers a consistent, high quality audio visual experience can make the difference between offering a random doctor on demand and offering a service and a doctor that is in demand.
Avidex AV is revolutionizing the way healthcare facilities and doctors are delivering care. Their 20 years of experience is being leveraged to drive down the cost of care while promoting positive healthcare outcomes. Is your organization looking for a new kind of technology partner? Connect with one of our Account Executives today to learn more.
About Bob Higginbotham
Bob Higginbotham, CTS-I, CTS-D, is the Avidex National Manager of Healthcare AV. Bob has spent his 30 year career in leadership positions in the AV industry including extensive design and build work in healthcare facilities. He owned and operated a successful AV business in Texas with multiple offices in several cities where he managed a staff of over 100 employees. Bob has served as a technical consultant for a major AV manufacturer, led the technical sales team for a national video conferencing provider and provided technology auditing services for several private education facilities. He has a unique working knowledge of audiovisual technology as well as multiple certifications in audio engineering, acoustics, AV design, CQT system commissioning and video transmission systems. Bob holds a BA in communications and has recently served as board chair for a large private school. He brings his years of technical knowledge and leadership experience to Avidex where he leads the national healthcare AV team. Contact Bob at firstname.lastname@example.org