While the advantages to the consumer are many, there are also perils of DIY medicine and this test-and-refer business model.
Business models are a description of how a company creates, deploys and harvests value. We are seeing many innovation care delivery and business process models as a result of opportunities created by new rules, technologies and patient-customer demands. One such model is the DIY screening and referral business model.
The idea is to use kiosks or remote sensing technologies to measure or document patient parts (like their skin or retinas), physiology (like their vital signs), or analyses (like their blood glucose or electrolytes) and then, based on the results, offer patients a list of doctors they can see who can treat or advise about their given condition based on the results of the remote DIY testing.
While the advantages to the consumer are many, there are also perils of DIY medicine and this test-and-refer business model:
1. Is DIY diagnosis and treatment better than the present model and does it achieve the goals of improving population health while lowering costs? Does it add value, and , if so, where? The saying goes that a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.
Will these technologies actually drive up the costs of care instead of lowering them? In most instances in medicine, unlike other industries, new technologies tend to supplement, not replace other technologies thus adding to the cost and utilization.
2. How will the enormous amounts of self-generated data created by these things quantify self-initiatives be stored and accessed given the present EMR infrastructure and models? In previous posts, I've discussed the anatomy and physiology of digital health and its evolving embryology. Who or what will be responsible for doing something with the results? Will it be the responsibility of the patient to enter results in an open electronic medical record?
3. What new business models need to emerge to sustain any improvements in health that result?
4. What impact with DIY medicine have on the legal and regulatory environment of biomedical and health innovation and entrepreneurship?
5. What is the role of the doctor as they become increasingly disintermediated?
6. What are the ethical and legal implications and challenges?
7. How to we educate and train doctors to partner with patients?
8. What new jobs will need to be created to manage increasingly complex patients self-diagnosing and treating themselves?
9. How do we solve the issues about data, data everywhere?
10. Who pays for all this?
It is exciting to see physician entrepreneurs trying to create user-patient defined value through the deployment of innovation. However, like every other business, their success or failure to do so will hinge on creating a valid business model to do it.