30,000 new patients? Free consults? Telehealth/Telemedicine takes off. (But can doctors compete?)

(A 3-minute read but great content to explore to get the deeper story! I am going to bookend this post.)

Here’s a novel idea: maybe Biopharma can expand their business model to include tele-health services and develop this new revenue stream and offer it to large health systems?

These past few weeks seemed like “Tele-health Month” in my email and in the content I read weekly. But as usual amidst all the noise, market and human realities need to be considered. Before we get to the take-off of tele-health, let’s look at the current leader of the treatment model — the doctor.

Tele-health vendors are filling in some vital cracks in the health system. Doctors in large systems or in private practice need to be aggressive with their digital patient outreach or fall further into non-relevance. Do they need to be convinced? Do the telehealth service companies threaten their practice future?

Yes, on all fronts. Medical Economics, a great HCP site, posted an article on the “Top 7 reasons physicians should consider telemedicine”. While the reasons are good ones, anyone close to the shifting dynamics of the industry have to wonder if the article is for Luddites or those already left behind. You could say that doctors are already emailing with patients through their EHR Portal, but most of us know that is usually a notice about tests or a non-committal note about appointments.

HealthTap is pushing the limits very well. In a great, smart and moving email from HealthTap those who suffered from Hurricane Matthew are offered free consults, a perfect reason for telehealth and one that creates market share:

I think this is a brilliant example of smart marketing; this free offers is an obvious and dramatically relevant reason to engage with telehealth. Add the humanity/compassion of their free offer and you see how fast this could be adopted. When marketing and compassion come together, it always wins.

Then, I receive an email from American Well, stating:

“Learn how Southwest Medical Associates enrolled more than 30,000 patients in telehealth and conducted more than 20,000 telehealth visits.” Clearly not a boast, but a tipping point.

Have any of you engaged with such smartphone/tablet services? Does it feel “right” or is it still working out the kinks on what those tele-docs can do or say?

And those doctors sitting in their offices with the lineup of patients? Maybe the real worry is for those doctors — 60% + of all practices — who sold themselves to a hospital system and are paralyzed because of their loss of prescribing, and the 15-minute-per-patient performance metric. The days of waiting are nearly over. The days of lean-in and engage are here.

Here’s a novel idea: maybe Biopharma can expand their business model and develop this new revenue stream and offer it to large health systems?