Addressing Healthcare Inefficiencies

How do you deal with the inefficiencies of the healthcare system?

This question was posed to a LinkedIn discussion group by White Glove Health, an Austin-based company that provides health care directly to you at home or work or over the phone. It’s a new discussion thread, but here’s my initial response.


Given advancements in technology, and related but slower advancements in regulatory oversight, I see companies like White Glove Health leading us into a more efficient future where advice, tests and procedures move down-market over time from specialists to general practitioners, PAs, NPs, RNs, medical aids, and health consumers themselves. I see many functions moving from hospitals to clinics, satellite clinics, and homes. And I see eventual changes in licensing that allows care to extend across state lines, and even international boarders.

When a patient is traveling out of state (or out of country), current rules allow them to call their primary care physician for advice. The same rules allow the physician to provide advice when she’s the one who is out of state at a conference. So why not allow for health organizations to scale and support patients wherever they are, calling initially into a medical triage center and handling many traditional office visits through video calls?

WellPoint, one of the largest health insurers, already is moving in this direction, setting up Internet-connected medical call centers in India and the Philippines, and working with IBM to apply its Watson supercomputer to assist in medical diagnostics.

Our rising costs already cause many patients to seek affordable alternatives, including medical tourism offshore, so why not encourage them to visit the very best providers here instead?

One more thing. Isn’t the most effective way to address inefficiencies in medical care just a matter of avoiding the need for it in the first place, through improved public health & wellness? Many employers, to control rising care costs and improve worker productivity, are moving in this direction with wellness programs. And we’ve finally starting a national conversation about the role of obesity and its various causes. (See America’s Obesity Epidemic: a BIG Problem)