The Heathcare Reform: Doctors Need To Go Virtual

Armen Hareyan's picture
Virtual Doctor

Healthcare is now one of few big immediate problems the new administration needs to deal with of course the economy will be the top of the list. Healthcare and online is a match made in heaven as people of all ages are seeking resources that are accurate, safe and anonymous from the Internet; expect to see of innovation and disruptions the next 24 months. Doctors not nly need to become virtual, but also social.

When we see Wal-Mart targets generic drugs users by charging a one low uniform price ($10 for a 90-day supply; walk-in clinics in shopping malls are slowing popping up, electronic prescribing improves quality using error-reducing software; telephone-based practices as such TelaDoc, provides telephone consultations to 2 million customers; and medical tourism provides treatment in Four Seasons settings overseas when patients can save up to 50% abd being treated like they are in a five start resort, we know change is coming.

Many interesting start-ups including this one called Carol whose vision is to be the shopping mall of medical procedures. The service, which for now is only available in the Minneapolis-St. Paul and Seattle, basically lets you compare prices for “care packages” ranging from alcohol-addiction treatment and CT scans to hernia treatment and dental. This is one great innovation. Medical pricing has never been efficient not transparent, as more, and as people being pushed into “consumer-directed” plans that saddle them with financial responsibility for their own care, being able to compare prices is a good idea, if only they can make it eBayish it will be better. There are a lot of challenges to get enough providers to participate. They believe after their own research analysis that 70% medical treatment are “plannable and shoppable.”


Innovative ideas that bring better quality, more transparency, efficiency, greater convenience, lower prices and peer-to-peer support services will help solve many of the health care problems that we have, public policy and money should encourage, not discourage, these efforts.

Public policy can play a key role. Hawaii passed a law in 06 that set the stage for last week launch of $10 (flat fee) for a 10-minute online visit with a doctor. The state is the first to offer online physician visits statewide. Residents can chat with a doctor over a standard Web browser (IE 7 or Firefox 2) or carry out their visit over the telephone. Those with a webcam can also use that to share video with the doctor. The service will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Members of Hawaii's largest insurer, HSMA (which operates the state's Blue Cross and Blue Shield) pay $10 for the 10-minute consultation, while non-members pay $45.

For now, the company expects doctors to mainly use the service to fill their spare time, though he said that he can imagine a day where a new medical school graduate might choose to set up an online-only practice. Or someday your call will be redirected to overseas or conferencing in your holistic medicine practitioner in India together with your traditional doctor for an extra $2. Given that there is such a big shortage of primary care physicians, this could be one way of optimizing their capacities. It is a very smart idea.

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