Could Digital Primary Care Clinics Save the Healthcare Industry?By Jorge Camargo | Fri, 10/02/2020 - 02:04
Global estimates indicate that 150 million people each year incur catastrophic health expenditures, pushing 25 million of those families into poverty each year.
While communications, technology, and software continue to benefit from Moore’s Law, healthcare is burdened with Baumol’s cost disease, which points to the lack of productivity gains in the healthcare sector as the cause behind the rising cost of healthcare services.
Basically, healthcare has been immune to innovation and technological advancements that drive productivity up and costs down.
If we want to make healthcare more affordable and accessible, we have to create innovations that increase the productivity rate — output supplied by an hour of labor — to the same rate as other progressive sectors like manufacturing and agriculture.
This is where the digital primary care clinic comes in. But, before we jump into it, let’s first explore how support has evolved in the software industry.
Most software and IT companies structure their support around three levels or tiers: L1, L2, and L3. Level 1, your help desk staff and self-help tools, strives to solve at least 80 percent of all incoming support requests. It’s the “cheapest” level you can solve an issue at. An issue that escalates to L3, where an expert like a software engineer needs to be pulled in, is the most expensive.
This incentive has created a boom of new and modern solutions that help software companies solve most of the issues with their Level 1 support. Solutions like Intercom and Zendesk provide an asynchronous in-chat messenger for apps, powered by smart bots that automatically suggest solutions to customer inquiries, and have completely transformed how companies do support.
Now, back to the digital primary care clinic.
Healthcare should work exactly the same as the support industry. Most issues should be caught and solved at L1: primary care. The same way the IT support industry transformed itself with the help of technology, the primary care clinic should transform itself into a digital primary care clinic.
By moving primary care from the world of atoms into the world of bits and bytes, money is saved. Avoiding unnecessary visits and tests with the use of technology tools like a patient-provider chat financially helps patients.
It can also help healthcare providers, by providing them a way to scale their services to a wider patient population. At Ecaresoft, with the help of modern support tools, each support rep is able to support between 400 and 600 customers a day. Imagine being able to “care for” 500 patients a day with the help of technology as a single primary care provider?
Over time, digital clinics pave the path toward standardization and automation of health services, two core elements that are needed to continually improve the productivity rate of an industry.
What does this mean for doctors? Embrace change. Technology is not here to replace doctors, it’s here to empower them and augment them. Tools like Nimbo Agenda can save doctors hours of administrative work that can be better spent by taking care of patients.
When customers became “digital customers” the old IT support software had to be thrown out and new technology tools had to be created from scratch with the digital customer in mind.
In healthcare, only new tools that are built with the “digital patient” in mind will be able to help clinics bridge the gap to becoming digital clinics.