Let me start by noting that I am excited and in favor of the use of telemedicine. The expectation is the delivery of timely and accurate care. As co-owner of a small business I am faced with the same healthcare decisions most companies have to deal with on an annual basis.
Coverage options for the team and costs against those options are the primary considerations. Consequently each year is a search for the best option for our company and we’re prepared to switch providers – a big hassle for everyone when that does happen. This year we made some changes but did not end up switching providers. But there’s another change I’ve noticed and I am betting it’s not limited to our provider. It’s apparent that I will be receiving a much greater number of messages from my healthcare provider encouraging me to log into the portal and update my records, use the portal to help monitor and improve my health and improve the relationship between me, my doctor(s), and the health insurance provider.
If early indications are a harbinger fasten your seat belts because it’s going to be a bumpy ride. Theoretically and with luck eventually, all this future communication (think emails and if you agree SMS text messages mostly) will make caring for oneself better for patients. But first there’s going to be a messy in-between period.
The days of the solo or small group practitioner are nearing their end. In the U.S. physicians of all kinds are banding together in large group practices for a multitude of reasons that include managing paperwork, compliance, insurance and malpractice issues. Smaller groups would be more prone to delaying technology investments, which are substantial. The larger medical groups are focused on efficiency and maximizing physician time and revenue stream. Yes larger physician groups still want to deliver excellent patient care too, but from what I see and hear, it’s on a tight schedule. To have a GP or specialist spend more than fifteen minutes with patients is becoming a rarity. Nurses are doing more and more work that the doctor used to do. That’s not a bad thing, but it is different, very different from what most people have become accustomed.
Less time with the doctor, more messages in your inbox (and smart phone) asking you to ‘visit your profile for updates to your health condition’ are in your immediate personal health future. I will keep hoping that ultimately it will be better overall but I am not looking forward to the transition over the next few years. Are you?