Going to the doctor is just not the same anymore. In fact, it might not even be necessary for some needs. You can shop online for everything from mail-order orthodontics to eyeglasses and contact lenses. Direct-to-consumer healthcare is an emerging industry with nothing but growth in its forecast.
One particular component of direct-to-consumer healthcare that shows plenty of promise is on-demand telehealth. What is it? It is essentially replacing in-office primary care visits with videoconferencing visits and phone calls. It is seeing your primary care physician without ever going to the office.
On-demand telehealth has been forced into the limelight by the coronavirus pandemic. As primary care physicians have turned to telemedicine out of necessity, some have come to realize that the on-demand model may not be the bad apple critics have long claimed it to be. But there is a catch: on-demand telehealth needs more help from technology if it ever hopes to become the norm.
A New On-Demand Model
To be clear, on-demand telehealth is distinctly different from straight telemedicine. The telemedicine model dictates having a regular primary care physician you consult with most of the time via technology. You only go to the office when necessary. On-demand telehealth eliminates having a ‘regular’ doctor altogether.
By its nature, the on-demand model allows consumers access to a doctor the same way they get a ride from Uber or have a meal delivered by Grub Hub. Consumers do not have a single primary care physician. Rather, they have an app on their phones that allows them to schedule telehealth visits on demand.
On-Demand Technology Needs
This brings us to the topic of technology. Having a phone app and enough doctors to provide on-demand service is not enough. For on-demand telehealth to displace traditional primary care, the industry needs more and better technology.
California’s Rock West Solutions says now is a good time for companies like theirs to offer engineering and consulting services to telehealth startups. Such services can be key to developing the kinds of technologies that are necessary to push on-demand telehealth forward.
What technologies does the industry need? Here are just a few:
- Better Wearables – Wearables will be key to allowing on-demand primary care physicians to offer diagnoses for conditions normally requiring office visits. Simply put, the industry needs better wearables capable of providing more useful data.
- Better Data Analysis – On-demand primary care physicians already use data to make decisions regarding patients. But they need more data, and a better way to analyze it. They need access to the volumes of data that traditional doctors already have.
- Predictive Analytics – A big advantage of on-demand telehealth is keeping people out of doctors’ offices. That strategy will only be improved when the industry has access to better predictive analytics.
- Standard EHR Protocols – Electronic health record (EHR) systems, while mandatory, are far from standardized. A standardized protocol will help facilitate on-demand telehealth by giving physicians real-time access to patient data.
Rock West Solutions insists that building a new telehealth app from the ground up with these things in mind is the right way to go. It makes sense. After all, engineering telehealth apps with a focus on the short- and long-term benefits of technology will ultimately direct where telehealth goes.
On-demand telehealth now really needs to lead the way. It cannot afford to follow behind everyone else. But for that to happen, the industry needs a lot of help from its technology partners. With the right kind of help, telehealth innovators could very well displace traditional primary care within the next 5 to 10 years.