Here's how much the average American spends on health care

Here's how much the average American spends on health care

Healthcare can get expensive. Here at Physician 360, we know that, and quite frankly we are tired of it. Your time and money are valuable and when all you are needing is a simple test like strep throat and it ends up costing you upwards of $100, it's frustrating. 

That's why it is our mission to do things differently. We give you access to simple tests like strep throat, including the Rx written by the doctor, all for $30. 

Our Co-Founder, Angela Fusaro, Discusses Her Unique Entrepreneurial Journey

Our Co-Founder, Angela Fusaro, Discusses Her Unique Entrepreneurial Journey

“Do I need sleep? I’ll be very honest, I don’t,” Fusaro said with a smile during the most recent meeting of the Emory Entrepreneur Breakfast Series. “It’s like one of my superpowers. I don’t sleep a lot at night, but I don’t like to sleep. I will wake up early on a Saturday morning and stand at my kitchen counter, eat cold leftovers and do Excel spreadsheets. I enjoy that.”

Telemedicine Pairs Well With Direct Primary Care

Katherine Restrepo , FORBES CONTRIBUTOR

"Thanks to telemedicine, a surge of medical professionals are effectively delivering health care to patients over long distances. Physicians are saving patients time and money by substituting an in-office visit with a virtual encounter via phone, tablet, or computer for common ailments. Hospitals are staffing “command centers” with specialty care teams who are responsible for monitoring sick patients in short-staffed rural intensive care units (ICUs).

More than 50 percent of hospitals are now caring for patients through various telemedicine initiatives and a majority of surveyed physicians are willing to incorporate it within their standard of care. Yet others remain hesitant to adopt telemedicine because certain services may not be reimbursed by private insurance carriers and government payers.

But health care providers like direct primary care (DPC) physicians aren’t letting fee-for-service payment policies dictate how they practice medicine. They’ve opted out of insurance contracts altogether, freeing themselves from the rigid structure of billing codes, modifiers, and prior authorizations. Instead, they contract directly with their patients, offering them around-the-clock access to primary care medical needs in exchange for an average $75 monthly fee. Phone calls, texts, e-mails, FaceTime, secure messaging platforms, and specialty consults – the most common uses of telemedicine -  are included in a patient’s membership package.

Continuous Conversations With Patients

One of the defining characteristics of DPC is that these physicians keep their practices small so they can spend more time with their patients. Telemedicine further restores their physician-patient relationship by extending access to health care beyond the exam room.

 

“For a patient, life doesn’t happen in the confines of a brick-and-mortar doctor’s office,” says Dr. David Cunningham, a physician who opened a DPC practice in Massachusetts. “Communicating with patients throughout their lives can be very helpful for them. Telemedicine lets patients have that continuous conversation with their DPC physician…they have access to DPC from their pocket.”

Cunningham’s practice currently uses Spruce Health, a secure messaging platform that lets him correspond with his patients on inquiries ranging from which vitamin D tablet to buy to feedback on a diabetic patient’s reported blood sugars.

Platforms like Spruce include other features that improve physician workflow while keeping patients satisfied. For example, if a patient thinks he may have a sinus infection, he has the option to answer a pre-scripted questionnaire related to the diagnosis at his own convenience. Once completed, it is sent to be reviewed by the physician. This communication style not only caters to both the physician and the patient’s separate schedules, but it also provides for better documentation because the questionnaire and all physician notes are downloaded into the patient’s electronic medical record (EMR). Written documentation could lead to better patient adherence, given that patients tend to forget 80 percent of a physician’s verbal orders. Half of patients that do remember end up interpreting them incorrectly.

Curbside Consults   

Another telemedicine benefit many DPC patients have access to at no additional cost to their membership are e-consults, or online consultations for specialty care. When physicians question whether their patient’s condition is beyond the scope of their practice, e-consults give them guidance to determine if specialist referrals are necessary.

Dr. Vance Lassey, a DPC physician located in Holton, Kansas, is a frequent user. “It's like paying a monthly fee for all-you-can-eat asynchronous curbside consults, which is really great, especially in rural areas like where I am,” he says.

For $250 a month, Dr. Lassey can seek medical advice on behalf of his patients from more than 100 different specialties through RubiconMD. The company guarantees a response time within twelve hours. Most recently, one of RubiconMD’s surgeons assisted him in removing a skin cancer from a patient’s nose. The patient, who was not financially secure enough to have it removed by a dermatologist, ended up saving thousands of dollars to have the procedure safely performed by Dr. Lassey.

 

While various health care professionals use e-consults, this form of telemedicine pairs exceptionally well with DPC. E-consults assist DPC physicians in fulfilling their value proposition that most health care needs can be thoroughly managed in a primary care setting. Because they can spend more time with their patients, e-consults are a tool to help them reduce the 40 percent of specialist referrals that could, in fact, be managed by a primary care physician.

Bypassing The Complexities Of Health Insurance Codes  

The American Medical Association (AMA) is ultimately responsible for expanding the number of billing codes for virtual telemedicine services. Third-party payers can then decide which ones to include in the health plans they offer to policyholders. So, as the status quo waits on this process, the DPC model proves that practicing medicine is much more flexible when it bypasses the complexities associated with health insurance. DPC physicians can be creative with designing primary care membership plans that feature built-in benefits that patients will value – like telemedicine."

Top Five Digital Transformation Trends in Health Care

"Technology is changing every industry in significant ways. To help frame how, I’m starting a new series discussing top trends in various markets. First up: health care.

No one can dispute technology’s ability to enable us all to live longer, healthier lives. From surgical robots to “smart hospitals,” the digital transformation is revolutionizing patient care in new and exciting ways. That’s not all. National health expenditures in the United States accounted for $3.2 trillion in 2015—nearly 18% of the country’s total GDP. It’s predicted that the digital revolution can save $300 billion in spending in the sector, especially in the area of chronic diseases. Clearly there is value—human and financial—in bringing new technology to the health care market. The following are just a few ways how.

Telemedicine

Even back in 2015, 80% of doctors surveyed said telemedicine is a better way to manage chronic diseases than the traditional office visit. Why? Telemedicine offers patients and health care providers both a new wave of freedom and accessibility. For the first time, a patient’s care options are not limited by geographic location. Even patients in remote areas can receive the highest quality of care, providing they have an internet connection and smart phone. Telemedicine can also save both time and money. Patients no longer have to schedule their days around routine follow-up visits (and long office waits). Instead, they can hop on a conference call to get the prescription update or check-up they need.

Nowhere has telepresence been more useful than in the mental health field. Now, those seeking emotional support can find access to a therapist or counselor at the click of a button, often for far less than they would pay for a full office visit. Internet therapies, for instance, “offer scalable approaches whereby large numbers of people can receive treatment and/or prevention, potentially bypassing barriers related to cost, location, lack of trained professionals, and stigma.” Telemedicine makes it possible.

 

Mobility And Cloud Access

Have you ever played phone tag with your doctor while waiting for important test results? It’s so nerve-racking! That’s why mobility and cloud access have been such a tremendous help in increasing accessibility for patients and doctors alike. By 2018, it’s estimated that 65% of interactions with health care facilities will occur by mobile devices. Some 80% of doctors already use smartphones and medical apps, with 72% accessing drug info on smart phones on a regular basis. Gone are the days of paper charts and file rooms. Hospitals, insurance companies, and doctor’s offices are now storing patient medical records in the cloud, with patients able to access test results online 24/7.

Given HIPAA laws relating to patient privacy, it’s probably no surprise this has also led to an increased focus on data protection and security. According to one report, “the black-market value of medical data is greater than even that of financial information.” Believe me when I say: No industry is more focused on virtualization security right now than health care.

Wearables And IoT

I remember the days when going into the local grocery store and getting my blood pressure read at one of those prehistoric machines seemed exciting. Imagine: A machine that helped me manage my own well-being without setting foot in a doctor’s office. Now, mobile devices as small as my cell phone can perform ECGs, DIY blood tests, or serve as a thermometer, all without even leaving my house. With help from automation, patients can even be prompted to check their weight, pulse, or oxygen levels, and enter results into mobile patient portals. Even better: They can transmit the results to my doctor in real time. Those details, when entered regularly, can help predict one’s risk for heart disease and other illnesses, ultimately saving lives. This is far more than cool. It’s life-saving.

Artificial Intelligence And Big Data

Big data is king in the digital world, and health care is no exception. Yes, it can be gathered to measure customer satisfaction. But perhaps more importantly, it can be used to automatically identify risk factors and recommend preventative treatment. Even more exciting: with the rise of the Internet of (Medical) Things (IoMT), mobile and wearable devices are increasingly connected, working together to create a cohesive medical report accessible anywhere by your health care provider. This data is not just useful for the patient. It can be pooled and studied en masse to predict health care trends for entire cultures and countries.

Empowered Consumers

All of the above have led to an entirely new trend in healthcare: patient empowerment. While many of us have come to associate health care with high costs and long waits, patients are now in the driver’s seat, with better access to higher-quality doctors, and higher satisfaction rates overall. It’s a healthy new way to look at health care, and one that holds promise for all of us with easy access to the digital landscape. My blood pressure is already lowering just imagining the possibilities."

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/danielnewman/2017/03/07/top-five-digital-transformation-trends-in-healthcare/#7f6628a25611

Author: Daniel Newman , CONTRIBUTOR