The future has arrived. It’s just not evenly distributed yet.
With the push of a button—from the comforts of your favorite chair—many surprising pleasantries are easily within reach today. We’re talking everything from household items to gourmet ingredients to a new car. It can all be served up within a moment’s notice with relative ease.
So the next time you satisfy those late-night cravings with an on-demand purchase, ask yourself—why can’t I order a flu test with that double pepperoni pizza?
Amazon Helped Us Usher in a Brave New Age
Thanks to Amazon, many Americans now operate under the general thought process that we can get-anything-quick with our smart devices. When founder Jeff Bezos first launched Amazon in 1995 he had a vision for “an everything store” that quickly grew beyond peddling only books. With e-commerce exploding over the years to follow, we can now find a way to order almost anything.
Today, ride-hailing apps like Uber have tested the waters with puppies delivered to your doorstep for an in-home cuddle session. If drone delivery is more your thing, companies such as Wing, which is owned by Google parent Alphabet, have partnered with Walgreens and FedEx to dispatch drones to your doorstep for basic necessities. Meanwhile, smaller operations have found ways to dispatch some of the more obscure needs out there. Looking to hatch some chicken, duck, or geese eggs this evening? No problem, you can get an assortment of hatching eggs delivered to your home just in time to allow you to incubate them to the point of hatching at home.
While new technology has made it possible to digitally dispatch everything from the mundane to the oddly satisfying, one of the most important aspects of our lives has been ignored until recently: our health.
The national trend for on-demand services is estimated at well over $75 billion, as reported by market research firm Rockbridge Associates. As a result, retail customers now see themselves as empowered shoppers, a mindset that has trickled over to healthcare patients who are finally beginning to be seen as emboldened consumers who are no longer willing to wait for the doctor to call their name for that scratchy throat.
As the healthcare industry begins to shift, private investors and venture capital firms are scrambling for their piece of one of the last frontiers that is quickly becoming a crowded field. The New York Times, as an example, reports that Heal, an on-demand app for physician house calls for a flat fee of $159 per visit without insurance has raised over $75 million with celebrity backers like Lionel Richie and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Meanwhile, DispatchHealth, an on-demand urgent care provider, has raised over $36 million and says that it estimates delivering care to over 80,000 patients this year. As the physician and nurse practitioner house-call market grows, Heal and DispatchHealth are not the only game in town, as others such as MedZed, Dose Healthcare and Pager now compete to grab attention.
And the growth isn’t just happening in the on-demand primary care market, as the push-button ride hailing model has now extended to non-emergency medical transport like Ambulnz. Known as interfacility transfer, Ambulnz moves patients from their hospitals to their homes as well as transfers patients between medical facilities. Caregivers relying on such digital dispatching have reported not only increased convenience thanks to these new options, but also an increase in transparency as they schedule and track medical transportation in real-time.
While America begins to lean in to consumer-driven healthcare, on-demand models are saving insurers money as healthcare customers—with their mobile phones at the ready—seek medical attention sooner. If these healthcare technology companies can deliver on their promise to do away with long waits for appointments in traditional settings and physician’s offices, today’s consumer appears ripe for as many new and convenient healthcare offerings as possible. And if these new on-demand services are capable of providing early detection and treatment, we’re looking at finally nailing a scalable way to head off serious illness and disease that lead to hospitalizations and emergency care.
Of course, in healthcare, however, much is driven by insurers. For their part, some insurers are adding on-demand services to their plans and forming managed care partnerships with new startups to cover Heal visits, as an example, as part of their PPO plans. For those with private insurance, a co-pay for Health typically runs between zero and $30. Private insurers such as Cigna, Humana and United Healthcare have partnered with Heal as a way to improve outcomes over what patients might get in an office setting while driving cost down and keeping people healthier. For its part, Heal says that it anticipates closing out the year with over 100,000 house calls that will result in $53.7 million per year in overall health-care savings.
At Workpath, we see the delivery of on-demand, in-home services as critical to the healthcare model of the future. We’ve always wondered why the healthcare model encourages a patient who is sick or hurt to leave the comfort of their home. When you have the flu, for example, you must drive to the doctor’s office then drive to the pharmacy to fill a prescription then drive to the grocery store to pick up soup and ginger ale before returning home to get some much-needed rest. Not only can that negatively impact your recovery, but it can heighten the risk of you spreading the flu.
Why can’t you visit with your physician virtually and then have a flu test, prescription, and soup delivered by CVS Health within an hour? Add in the transparency you have when you order a pizza on your phone and it’s a no-brainer. You can lay in bed, watching your favorite show, and follow along on your phone as your prescription and remedies are gathered, picked up by a courier, en route, and arriving at your door.
Our team sees a world where it is easy to receive critical healthcare services in your home with the level of transparency you’ve become accustomed to expecting from other industries. It’s our mission to build the technology that can provide every patient the first-class healthcare experience they deserve from their healthcare providers.
Let us know your thoughts.
Hunter Byrnes is Head of Customer Success and Strategy at Workpath. The company’s software enables mobile healthcare services to schedule or dispatch on-demand the right healthcare professionals to perform the right care at the right time and place. See how mobile healthcare companies use Workpath’s HIPAA-compliant platform to cut costs, ensure compliance, improve patient satisfaction and more at Workpath.co.