OK, I’ll admit, I have a vested interest in this topic as an employee of Fairview Health Services and as someone who needs to visit a physician soon (I may or may not have broken my pinkie earlier this week). That said, as health care providers, insurance companies and government entities look for ways to transform the health care system, I make this plea: Make it happen–faster!
Why? Quite simply, the “Facebook generation” will demand it. Heck, I’m demanding it. And if my local provider can’t figure it out soon, I’m going to Google for my health care needs (as soon as they figure it out, which I’m guessing should be any day now). Anyway, as always, I have a few ideas:
* Online chats with providers to address simple ailments. Similar to the MinuteClinic model, couldn’t we develop a model where you could chat online with a doc by IM about basic ailments–ear infections, colds, broken pinkies, etc. Just identify a few physicians on a rolling schedule who would be responsible for connecting with patients online all day. One doc could actually interact with multiple patients at once. Why not–it’s called multi-tasking, right? Not sure how we’d reimburse for care in this kind of model, but as has always been the case, industry would find a way.
* Health care Twitter feeds. Wouldn’t you sign up to follow a Twitter account that fed you useful health care facts and tips? Five ways to help reduce the duration of your child’s cold. Three tips to help you run more and suffer less from joint pain. You get the idea. The tweets could include a quick tip and “point” to a blog post for more information. Mayo Clinic (big surprise) is already doing this–kinda. Like that old public service statement, “the more you know…”
* Virtual visits with providers. We almost have the technology to pull this off now. Tools like Second Life are in relative infancy. When they mature, which is not as far off as you might think, this becomes a very real possibility. The other option–video conferencing. You could visit with your doctor through tools like Skype–look your doc in the eye, ask questions, show your doc a rash, etc. It could be fairly interactive using today’s technology with the promise of a whole new experience in the future using virtual tools.
What are your thoughts?