Those in the medical travel industry are all about leaving home for elective care. But, when it comes to getting treatment for many urgent problems, it is a different story and the ER is no longer the place to go.
Those in the medical travel industry are all about leaving home for elective care. But, when it comes to getting treatment for many urgent problems, it is a different story and the ER is no longer the place to go. Instead, the new mantra is "don't leave home for care." Welcome to home-based urgent care.
The new models are driven by the need to reduce inappropriate ER visits, avoiding penalties for postoperative readmission, and a gradual change from a sick care system to a disease prevention and chronic disease management system that is cheaper and easier for patients. Lately, we've seen three new models.
One initiative, called community paramedicine is training the fast responders in chronic disease management, medication compliance, and home safety. Paramedics are then sent on scheduled house calls to frail and elderly patients or those who have trouble managing chronic conditions like heart failure and diabetes.
A second model, called the Uber of medicine, uses an app to send a doctor to your location. Think of it as a high-tech house call.
Finally, telemedicine and those using virtual visits are reaching into your living room more and more. Combine case management, wellness coaching, and smartphones with the proper apps and make a real difference in patient quality of life and hospital utilization.
Like almost all health innovation, most of these have happened because the rules have changed. Rules drive ecosystems that create new business models deploying innovation. In the case of telemedicine, it has taken over 60 years and we still have a long way to go. For digital health, it has taken a fraction of that time since the widespread growth of mobile devices. Community paramedicine is old wine in a new bottle, using existing delivery mechanisms but driven by an urgency to change. The take-homes are clear: product cycles and response times to market needs are getting shorter, people and money go where they are treated best, and bioimedical and health innovation and entrepreneurship is thriving.
It's exciting to see how entrepreneurs are responding to opportunity. However, there are still lots of rules that need to be changed, and despite these new models, we are still a long way from home.