From: Jeff Boss of FORBES
It’s no secret that the healthcare space is broken. A 2013 study conducted by the Journal of Patient Safety estimates that between 210,000 and 440,000 patients die in the US each year from accidental practice. To put this into perspective, an estimated 600,000 Americans die from heart disease each year and another 565,000 from cancer (source: www.cdc.gov), which puts healthcare incompetence as the third leading cause of death in the United States.
The pool of entrepreneurs in the race to offer mobile health consulting is growing larger by the day. With telemedicine, users have the power of accessibility in their hands with apps such as TouchCare and iBluebutton (see below). While the concept of telemedicine isn’t anything new, having the accessibility to one’s doctor is. Here are seven ways telemedicine changes the healthcare landscape—for the better:
1. Stronger relationships. Relationships are everything. If there was ever a person not to make angry, it’s your doctor. More important, your relationship with your doctor is everything, which is why mobile healthcare is so ideal. It offers the luxuries of personalization and convenience without exposing yourself or your child to the 15 other sickly patients normally waiting in your doctor’s office.
2. Convenience. TouchCare takes mobile healthcare to the next level as it creates an entirely new user experience for the customer. Rather than having to trek into the doctor’s office for a consult, you can now do so from the comfort of your own smartphone for follow up visits, after hours calls, or while traveling. Additionally, parents gain a stronger piece of mind because they can immediately reach their doctor for relatively benign symptoms such as a cough or runny nose.
3. Reduced complexity. Complexity is defined by the speed at which industries change and the interdependence of relationships therein. Telemedicine reduces both.
4. Greater awareness. iBlueButton is perhaps the most comprehensive app for telemedicine as it allows users (currently only for active duty military and veterans) to carry their own medical records with them in their smartphone. For physicians, pop-up windows alert the provider of possible medication side effects for greater drug reconciliation.
5. Shared purpose. The focus of healthcare today appears to be more towards earning a profit rather than serving its purpose of patient care. The purpose of an organization is (ideally) to serve as a value differentiator to its customers because of what they (the company) stand for. Whatever a company’s flavor, its purpose is defined by a certifiable element that distinguishes it from all else, and that element is what attains and retains customers and fulfills a societal need. Bettina Experton, MD, MPH, and President & CEO of Humetrix, which is the company behind iBluebutton, believes that “collaborating for a higher purpose is a key corporate value… We work to empower patients and make them more informed healthcare consumers, and we think about ways to make life easier for parents, caregivers and families in an increasingly complex healthcare environment.” (source: http://www.ibluebutton.com/post-be-16/).
6. Improved efficiency. Smaller practices get bought out by larger organizations, which means new regulations and more bureaucracy are added into their daily routine. Nancy Zimmerman, head of Marketing for TouchCare, cited one practice in North Carolina who was recently bought out by a larger company who needed to scale back from seeing their normal 60 patients per day to 20 due to the added bureaucracy. Telemedicine eliminates phone consults and the addiction to answering emails.
7. Enhanced flexibility for physician. The immediacy of telemedicine provides direct access to the customer. iBlueButton users can directly share critical parts of their medical record with their doctor via secure messaging.
The changing landscape of healthcare offered through smartphone apps allows doctors to build stronger relationships with their patients rather than be just another MD—critical to the “patient” component of “patient care.”
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–Jeff’s upcoming book “Navigating Chaos: How to Find Certainty in Uncertain Situations” will be out in 2015. Read about it here.