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Health Tech

The Uberization of Healthcare


Medical Tourism Magazine –

Uber’s model of providing user-centered transportation options which lower cost and saves consumers’ time is gradually finding its place in healthcare. With technology companies disrupting the scene in healthcare, telemedicine is about to be the new “Uber” in healthcare delivery.

Uber has revolutionized the taxi industry providing door-step transport options for users by connecting them directly to the driver. What this does is to remove the middlemen in the taxi business and create an affordable, convenient, and transparent way of commuting users.

This concept is being bought by many startup healthcare companies hoping to disrupt the scene changing healthcare to a more patient-centric model and making tech devices the new hospital. Healthcare, as we currently know it, is built around the four walls of the hospital, patients travel miles for follow-up visits or to receive an antibiotic prescription for an illness they probably already know they have, but times are changing.

This break-in is similar to the taxicab model in San Francisco which was built on the drivers’ needs and eventually lost potential consumers. These taxi systems dominated the scene until Uber introduced a consumer-centered model which, although faced with a lot of regulatory challenges, has exceeded expectations and has broken new boundaries in the transport space.

Tech companies are starting to create telemedicine applications and software which allows patients to receive an evaluation of their symptoms, a diagnosis, and a prescription, all by a registered doctor.

According to Rock Health, a healthcare tech fund, telemedical companies saw a 300 percent year-over-year growth in funding in 2014. It also noted that about 1.25 million patients received health care through telemedicine in 2015. Silicon Valley entrepreneurs are making moves to harness the potential of telemedicine.

For example, Lemonaid Health, a health tech company provides access to qualified healthcare providers through the company’s app for a flat fee of $25. The patient receives a diagnosis and is issued a prescription within a few minutes of completing a questionnaire evaluating their symptoms. The company employs doctors across many specialties to develop these questionnaires and provide health consult to users.

Experts note that many of these tech companies are starting out by targeting the young population who not only have a more extensive use of tech devices but have a more straightforward medical issue. Younger generations often are more likely to enjoy the benefit of time saved and money offered by these apps.

Another of such start-up companies is HealthTap, which seeks to provide on-demand access to doctors at a lower price than the traditional hospitals and physicians. Ron Gutman, the company’s CEO compares the model to Amazon, stating that it combines online access to “sellers” with a real-world delivery and logistics. The app provides an artificial intelligence-based algorithm which evaluates patients’ symptoms and gives them options for subsequent steps.

HealthTap has more than 107,000 doctors across the United States who see patients on demand, providing diagnostic assessments and appropriate prescriptions. However, the Chief Medical Officer Geoff Rutledge noted that HealthTap doesn’t employ doctors, but connects users to freelance doctors on the app, paying a part of each customer’s premium fee for a consult.

A tech-based healthcare model affords users a number of benefits including convenience. Being a patient-centered healthcare approach, users will enjoy the convenience of getting their symptoms evaluated, a diagnosis made, and a treatment plan or prescription issued without leaving home or taking an excuse from work.

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