Why you should start thinking globally now.
Covid19 is making the US healthcare industry cross the chasm to consumer driven healthcare.
Previously imposed ideas of what we thought were possible in healthcare and other aspects of life are being challenged every day. No one is accepting a lower standard of care or service but rather realizing that there are pros and cons to delivering service online.
Based on my own experience and insights from others, we should all start thinking about the global potential.
Everyone has the potential to prosper in a global economy. The cost of doing business is decreasing in developed countries and increasing in developing countries.
Retired healthcare providers have rejoined the workforce and are supplementing care via telehealth services. We’ve created a new way for them to participate on their terms while increasing the supply of medical expertise to the market.
It’s an important proof point to acknowledge because many countries have been fretting about how to meet the demands of aging populations. Designing services that continue to empower physicians and other healthcare providers will enable us to meet the growing global demand.
The cost of providing telehealth and virtual services is substantially lower than a bricks and mortar service. Providers don’t need receptionists, schedulers, coders and billing staff. We’ve had the ability to automate all of these functions for years but many providers were scared to let go of the past and venture into the future.
Reimbursement and Wages
Reimbursement for telehealth services is reportedly about 30% lower than an in office visit now. That may change post Covid19 pandemic. There is a lot of concern about the potential of over utilization.
One prominent Oncologist who is using telehealth services to have end of life discussions with his patients shared that it’s harder for him to gage the patient’s reaction and to offer comfort. Consequently, he’s scheduling a follow on discussion a few days after the initial discussion to answer questions.
Telehealth is enabling him to enhance his service by doing more timely follow up with the patient. Some might think that is an example of over utilization whereas others will think that is an example of good service and patient care.
Establishing a standard of care and appropriate reimbursement is going to be tricky because there are a lot of variables to be considered. As a benchmark, payment for online services outside the healthcare industry have decreased by more than 30% and are constrained by the consumer’s ability to pay in light of the economic impact.
Health tech companies shouldn’t expect to receive a premium now given the amount of consumer technology being researched and used in the delivery of care. It will be hard to justify. Plus consumer technology is raising the bar for health tech companies. Dated, poorly designed and restrictive interfaces are not going to be accepted by healthcare consumers in the near future.
There is an increasing need to establish global standards for healthcare professionals to facilitate a global healthcare marketplace.
While some US physicians have been tossing around the idea of unionization to address their working conditions and pay, they might be better off fighting for a new organization that establishes global credentials. Technology is going to empower them in new and better ways to work on their terms if they embrace it.
There is political discussions happening now around infrastructure as a way to stimulate the economy after the Covid19 shutdown. Governments should be investing in infrastructure because roads and bridges effect everyone’s ability to live productively.
The definition of infrastructure needs to evolve. Good roads and bridges represent how we functioned in the old economy but less important to how we will function in the near future. Internet access and reliable connectivity is quickly becoming more important for our ability to work and live.
Coverage is still spotty or limited in older parts of major cities, rural areas and other countries. Hopefully, political leaders are considering that as they plan the next round of stimulus funding so that everyone has equal and affordable access to opportunity and healthcare.