With a world in flux and many of us still quite literally unable to leave our homes, we’re now entering an age where healthcare technologies will increasingly exist beyond the four walls of the doctor’s surgery and hospital wards. We’ll be talking more about this in the coming weeks and months – in the meantime, enjoy the article. Today we’re exploring Healthcare on Demand? (Yes there are apps for that!).
… and about on-demand …
TV, food, travel, shopping, sex … no, not today’s to-do list, but merely the tip of the ‘on-demand’ iceberg that’s come to dominate our cultural landscape, and which is growing bigger by the minute.
There’s little in our lives these days that won’t materialise when we ask for it – and in the time and place that we want it. This new economy — a burgeoning digital marketplace providing immediate access to whatever you need — has discreetly woven itself into the very fabric of our lives. In this world, where 23 out of 310 $1bn companies belong to the on-demand sector, the ‘I-want-it-and-I-want-it-now’ mindset is … well, set, our high expectations filtering out across every facet of our daily existence, and slowly but very surely, we’ve seen healthcare enter the fold. If we can hail a ride when we need it, a new wardrobe when we ask for it, and a box-set to binge on when we want it, why can’t we manage our personal healthcare when we see fit? Well of course, we can, it’s just that we don’t hear so much about it – until now. Brace yourselves, healthcare-on-demand is coming to a smartphone near you, delivering instant, personalised healthcare as you while away those minutes waiting for your Uber ride …
Dr Google will see you now
Do I need to see a doctor? Are my symptoms something I should worry about? Do my test results mean I need to revisit my disease management plan? Is my condition improving? When should I get a blood test? Are my sugar levels too high? If you’ve ever tried to call your doctor’s surgery first thing on a Monday morning, you’ll know that getting quick answers to these questions – any question – means a half-hour listening to Luther Vandross on a loop, followed by a four-week wait to see someone qualified to help you. In many instances, Dr Google is usually the next best thing, and the numbers prove it: health-related searches on Google total over 70,000 every minute, with these searches ranging from symptoms to prognoses, and medication to DIY treatments. (Super-interestingly, searches increase prior to individuals hauling themselves along to the ER room as they look for information on the condition they end up seeking emergency treatment for.)
App-first healthcare – tradition goes rogue
It’s official – the “app-first” approach to on-demand healthcare is well underway. At last count (Nov 19) there are now over 41,000 healthcare apps out there on Google Play alone – a near 5% percent increase on the previous quarter. In 2018, there were over 400 million medical app downloads, and in 5 years time the sector is predicted to grow to over a cool 11 billion dollars. Readers, the message is clear – we’re ready, willing and demanding to manage our own healthcare.
Growing numbers of innovative healthcare products and services along with our changing expectations have seen the on-demand healthcare sector flourish as we look to self-monitor our bodies and our minds in the same way we do the weather and the traffic. But what does on-demand healthcare really look like? For most of us, looking after our health is still an in-person, in-health-centre experience; we’re still having to make appointments – often at inconvenient times. Does on-demand really have something to offer? Yes! Take Amazon’s Care program for its employees, providing staff with a platform to consult with a health professional via chat or video. If needed, a caregiver is dispatched to the employee’s home, and prescriptions delivered by courier to make sure you’re back to optimum health as quickly as possible. The benefits to everyone are clear – for the employee, faster diagnoses, faster recovery. For employers? A worker ready to return to their desk as soon as is possible – so no lost time and resources due to absence through illness. Yep, if you’re in any doubt that the on-demand healthcare app promises and delivers the convenience, accessibility and efficiency that we all expect from our service providers (whatever sector they happen to be in), your doubts are about to be assuaged …
Benefits of On-Demand Healthcare
Perhaps the most obvious benefit of on-demand healthcare is convenience – convenience in all shapes and sizes. For a start, on-demand healthcare platforms make it much easier for patients to connect with their consultants without the time-consuming inconvenience of having to travel, take precious time out of work (or other commitments), or endure the discomfort it can often entail for those that are chronically ill. The ability to connect with healthcare practitioners in the comfort of our own homes, and often at our convenience ensures far more efficient, effective healthcare:
Fast medical advice
When it comes to healthcare, speed counts. On-demand healthcare delivers, providing access to expert advice when we need it – 24/7/365.
We get to contact and communicate with our care providers 24/7/365 – meaning timely healthcare management that can often negate the need for interventions required due to excessive wait-times and delayed treatment.
More efficient care provision
Caregivers can quickly and easily provide advice and treatment programs with their patients, negating the need for weeks of waiting, missed calls, and inconvenient visits to health centres and hospitals.
Streamlined, efficient healthcare monitoring
Doctors can easily monitor and assess patient health and deliver optimum treatment and advice as well as easily accessing essential testing and diagnostic tools as and when needed.
The knock-on effects? Fast, convenient medical intervention (possibly life-saving); reduced need to visit the doctor surgery (freeing healthcare practitioners to focus on those with more pressing medical needs), reduced hospitalisation (faster intervention negating the need for ER visits); reduced healthcare costs (for patient and provider), enhanced opportunities for optimum outcomes … the list goes on. Bottom line? Quicker access to healthcare management is a win-win for everyone. Here’s our pick of the bunch that will give you a robust overview of the types of on-demand healthcare apps available:
US-based innovator Lemonaid calls itself an “online doctor’s office & medicine delivery” app to provide healthcare advice to subscribers who like to manage their healthcare without the expense of costly doctor surgery visits. Underpinned by evidence-based guidelines and protocols, Lemonaid provides a platform that allows patients to consult with a real doctor, gleaning quick advice for a vast range of conditions – everything from cold sores to migraines, blood type tests to blood sugar tests, and everything else in between. The icing on the cake? Fast and free delivery of medicines for many of the conditions consulted for. In a country where getting health support and treatment is often costly, time-consuming and inefficient, Lemonaid is fast becoming the blueprint for efficient, effective healthcare on-demand that truly is disrupting the market.
Almost 57 million adults in the US were dealing with mental health issues in 2017, and about 70% of these received no treatment – something had to change, and change it has. The on-demand mental healthcare space is now booming, with new innovators joining the fray on a near-weekly basis. One of the most well-known and successful of these is Enter stage right Talkspace, connecting their users with a vast network of licensed therapists who are standing by to provide timely, expert advice to those for whom the traditional care provision model has failed to deliver. For a weekly subscription, users can use text, voice or video to connect with mental health practitioners who are on-hand to respond as and when needed. And it’s working – during any given period, the number of users on the Talkspace app is in the “high tens of thousands”
From the on-demand economy to the sharing economy, the Israeli-based HelpAround initiative is one of our favourites at WHQ because it delivers on the very essence of what mobile technology should be about – sharing. Initially focused on supporting those living with diabetes, the app has evolved to provide users with local groups and communities who provide support and assistance when it’s needed. For example, users can create forum posts requesting help with various aspects of disease management or medication guidance – or simply a few much-needed words of encouragement on a low day. Users also have access to financial support services, support programs, community advice and insurance updates, as well as live chat with case managers for timely medical advice. On-demand healthcare at its very best!
50% of the 71 million people worldwide are at risk of preventable vision loss – yet only 50% of these get their eyesight tested by an eye specialist, in part due to the difficulties of visiting a specialist, lack of information and education or limited or no availability of specialists. Enter stage right an innovative mobile app that empowers primary healthcare providers by recording and referring patient retinal exams to local specialists for review. How? Get this – by attaching a handheld ophthalmoscope directly to their smartphone which then records the eye exam and sends the resulting high-resolution images to local ophthalmologists or optometrists for follow-up. The result? Timely, preventative treatment of eye conditions that might previously have been missed.
Saving the best til last, this doctor-on-demand app knows no innovatory bounds as it ramps up its place in the healthcare space – in Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines. From ‘ordering’ a doctor to your home, office or … the beach (arrival time within the hour – reducing non-emergency trips to ER by almost 50%) to the on-demand ambulance service, to ordering prescription medicines, to providing access to medical records, to live video and chat consultations, there’s not much that Doctor-2-U hasn’t considered. This is healthcare-on-demand for the modern age – expect to see something similar in the UK in the not-so-distant future!
We live in an on-demand culture; we want everything the minute we want it the way we want it – and we’re really only just getting started. Enterprise is responding, providing us with a more convenient, more affordable access to health services that empower us all to manage our own healthcare in ways that have far-reaching consequences all round. From faster, easier, more convenient healthcare provision for us, to reduced costs, enhanced efficiencies and streamlined care provision from our providers, the future looks bright – and healthy!
Right now, it’s about staying safe during what are incredibly stressful times. Please take every moment you can to be kind to yourselves and to others. We’ll be sharing any relevant, helpful information that we think can support our customers and friends as things develop – in the meantime, stay healthy, be safe.