Hospitals used to be a place of long lines, unnecessary paperwork, and overwhelming smells. A nightmare. In recent years, however, customers’ shifting values have become apparent. Individuals are now focusing on a company’s ability to provide personalized attention and care. And, the Covid-19 pandemic has added even more grease to the wheels. Companies have started to deliver an unlimited range of products at the click of a button, reducing the need for in-person shopping. Consumers have been pampered by the new rise in convenience and speed. On the other hand, hospitals are becoming overwhelmed by a surge in urgent-care patients and are not able to focus on non-Covid related cases. We need a fresh approach to healthcare.
Hospitals are becoming overwhelmed by a surge in urgent-care patients and are not able to focus on non-Covid related cases. We need a fresh approach to healthcare.
Unfortunately, traditional medical institutions and programs cannot accommodate our evolving needs. To fill the gap, start-ups have introduced services that provide personalized care without that baggage of actual hospitals.
Dispatch Health – an American company founded in 2013 by Kevin Riddleberger and Mark Prather – offers in-home urgent care and programs. The process is simple. A customer just needs to request a visit through their app, website, or over the phone. Dispatch Health then sends a specialized team – available in 18 states in the US – to treat the illness or injury. After the appointment, the company promises to call for the prescription, update your doctor, and handle billing. A Dispatch Health visit costs approximately the same as one to urgent care: on average, between $5 – $50 after insurance (without insurance requires a flat fee of $275 with additional service costs). To reduce customer hassle regarding payments, Dispatch Health has partnered with some of the US’s largest insurance companies – including Humana, Aetna, Cigna, and AARP – to contact them directly. And, it gets better: they treat just about any age group, ranging from 3 month-olds to senior citizens.
The company continues to stray further from the practices of our regular hospitals. Their teams use new technology from Tytocare, which allows data from the various parts of the body (e.g., heart, lung, and ears) to be shared with a doctor in their office. With the technology, visiting practitioners can immediately send information to the respective specialist. Dispatch Health can now offer in-depth discussions between families and doctors within the privacy and safety of the home.
Beyond just the United States, entrepreneurs worldwide have joined the movement to revolutionize health care. In 2018, Ajmal Saleem and Dr. Saleem M founded Treat At Home, a startup based in Tamil Nadu, India, that connects patients with medical specialists without leaving their living room. Although the company does not assist with medical emergencies, they provide a range of services to help families get medical assistance. For a maximum of Rs.1000, customers can organize a telemedicine call to speak with a Treat at Home doctor for advice, assistance to set up a home visit, or reference to other services. Their medicine delivery service and rental medical equipment program guide customers to local institutions and deliver the necessary products within days.
Furthermore, during the pandemic, startups have started to target consumers’ increased independence from hospitals regarding non-Covid issues. Hyfe – an American startup founded by Iulian Circo and Paul Rieger in March 2020 – uses AI to analyze coughs and classify them to diagnose conditions. The technology focuses on acoustic epidemiology, which then tracks changes in a patient’s cough over time. Whether it be a simple issue due to air quality or symptoms of Covid-19, Hyfe claims to provide insight into your health by distinguishing the slight variations in coughs. The data can then be shared with loved ones who want to keep a close eye on progress. Now, rather than struggling to describe the intensity of coughs at hospitals, patients can measure quantitative data to diagnose their conditions right at home.
These changes are more than just a few start-ups. The revolutionized industry can provide quality services at an ease never seen before. Professionals can now assess their patients from home, creating room at hospitals for care that requires special assistance. Many patients can be released earlier since progress can be tracked at home, removing the need for in-person appointments. Doctors will have access to previously secret information regarding whether home environments are an obstacle for health improvement. And for those uncomfortable or unsafe in public settings, there is no longer the stress of organizing cumbersome programs.
Change is clearly on the horizon, which begs the question, why now? Today’s world has seen the development of new social norms in which families have divided into smaller units scattered across the globe. There are dramatically fewer family members who can provide focused care for the dependent members at home. And, with higher participation in the workforce, the number continues to shrink. And yet, in a recent European survey, 90% of respondents said that social and health care systems should assist the elderly in order for them to remain in their homes rather than hospitals. With these societal changes and the new need to minimize the pressure on hospitals, at-home healthcare is a necessity. It is just a matter of time before individualization and efficiency become the new norm: words that have never been associated with hospitals.