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Monday, October 07, 2013

Is it time for Subscription Based Healthcare?

I'm going to start with stating the obvious. This is the digital age, where pretty soon, everything is going to be controlled by either your cell phone or more recently your smartwatch.

The services industry is going gaga over providing the best service to you right where you are, mostly through the use of these digital devices.

All you have to do is subscribe to a service.

You can get food delivered to you at any point of the day / night. You can get updates on news, views, rants, campaigns, cricket matches, football scores or even the colour of the month! You could get a phone company servicing you either online, virtually, or even in person at your home on demand. Banks lure you into internet banking and send people over when you want to open an account. Basically, everything is at hand, where and when you need it. Almost everything. 

Healthcare is being left behind, and I intend to correct this. Why can't we have a subscription based healthcare delivery system. Sections of the industry are heading this way already. You can get your blood tests done at the comfort of your own home at any time. You can order in prescriptions if you know your chemist well enough. You can now even get emergency care at home with services like Topsline and others like healthspring.

What you can't get is an appointment when you want with your preferred doctor.

I propose a subscription based Doctor Patient relationship wherein you basically subscribe to a particular Doctor for his consultation services annually. You agree on a particular fee, and pay the Doctor in question, for which, he provides you free consultations and priority appointments for the said period.

This works at an advantage for both the patient and the doctor. 

The patient knows he has someone he can go to almost anytime for an opinion or just to clarify doubts, without waiting endlessly in a queue. He also has the comfort of emailing, whatsapping, messaging, videoconferencing etc etc with the Doctor without the Doctor feeling shortchanged for offering his opinion for free.
The Doctor, knows, he has a reliable patient who wouldn't go elsewhere (it's a fear all doctors have, trust me), the number of no-shows would decrease, and even if you are a no-show it causes no harm as nothing is lost in terms of time, patient space etc. The doctor is also assured of a continuous stream of information towards your health and can be in a better position to diagnose you!

The possibilities are limitless. The economics brilliantly simple and cost effective to both. The only factor going against this would be time and commitment. I really think this can work. I have a lot more thoughts about this, but I don't want someone stealing my idea just yet. What would you look for if you were to opt for such a service and how much do you think would be a fair annual subscription amount? Please do leave a comment and let me know your views.


Pravin K said...

Doc personal touch cannot be missed. And I think in the future while tele-medicine has a future especially with smartphones having a lot of medical diagnosis uses. That said, I for one will not rely. At most it will give me half knowledge and I would end up damaging myself. However, there will be a market for this especially the next generation for whom this would be a no-brainer.

Techknowdoc said...

Hey Pravin. Thanks for the comment.
I actually am a proponent of the personal touch as you can vouch. What I was suggesting was actually having the opportunity to visit your doc throughout the year without having to hear that his appointments are full. For eg. If you have paid me an annual subscription, you now have a right to see me within 24 hours of requesting an appointment. You get priority over others because you are a valued customer now! The smartphone and video are only support measures if you or I can't make that appointment for various reasons. I've had a lot of patients traveling and calling from all around the globe because they trust only us. At that point, this creates value! Having said that, how much would you consider fair annual fees? :-)

doc chaitali said...

I think this is a very brilliant idea! It is like being on call and being paid for it. It is a symbiotic relationship. however certain things need to be clarified regarding the time when the doctor is on leave or deciding which patient among the subscribers needs a priority over the other. Good initiative Dheeraj!!!

Techknowdoc said...

Thanks for the comment Doc. Yes it is something that will have to be worded carefully in the contract. Of course, there should be back up for absences but over time with a select group of patients this will definitely work.
It would for a base for group practice which is the norm in west!

Anjum Dhir Kulkarni said...

I think it's a really good idea, I hope it does take off!:)

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