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Health Tech Podcast: An Uber for house calls? How tech is reinventing doctor’s appointments
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Health Tech Podcast: An Uber for house calls? How tech is reinventing doctor’s appointments

Take into consideration the final time you noticed a physician. Chances are high you needed to wait days, weeks or months for an appointment. You in all probability needed to fill out a clipboard stuffed with kinds, wait round, then be requested all the identical questions once more. It’s not precisely a enjoyable expertise.

Mark Lengthy thinks about this case quite a bit, as a result of it’s his job to make it higher.

Lengthy is the vice chairman of digital innovation at Windfall St. Joseph Health, so he spends his working days leveraging expertise to utterly reinvent the expertise of seeing a physician.

“You usually take into consideration how healthcare is one thing you do all the pieces you possibly can to place off coping with, as a result of the transactions of it are so tough,” Lengthy says on this new episode of GeekWire’s Health Tech Podcast. “When you get to the physician, that’s nice, however the remainder of the system is typically a bit difficult.”

Lengthy believes it shouldn’t be that approach. He’s working to make these doctor’s visits simpler immediately, whereas altering how he and others at Windfall take into consideration treating sufferers far into the long run. Windfall is the sponsor of this inaugural season of GeekWire’s Health Tech Podcast.

“We’re attempting to change into a well being firm, not a healthcare firm,” he stated. It might sound like a small distinction, however Lengthy says it’s really an vital one. He asks himself: “How can we change into a associate in your well being, not a spot to go whenever you’re sick?”

“If we actually need to get to the purpose the place we’re your associate for your self and your loved ones, we have to create that relationship and we have to deserve and earn the appropriate for that relationship,” he stated.

One of many methods the well being system is attempting to alter that dynamic is via expertise, and in Lengthy’s case, utilizing expertise to make the affected person expertise simpler and extra handy.

Telemedicine is an important instance. Say you might have a minor well being downside, however can’t take time without work work to get an appointment. A video name with a physician throughout your lunch break might do the trick simply positive. The identical goes for a scenario the place your regular physician doesn’t have an open appointment for days or even weeks.

Lengthy stated persons are typically hesitate to strive new methods of interacting with a physician — it’s unusual for one thing so fixed to alter dramatically. Individuals are typically skeptical about ditching traditions just like the clipboard stuffed with paper and the array of machines that measure their vitals. However he stated sufferers who do strive the video calls love them.

“A lot of our sufferers are saying, ‘This was actually incredible, I felt heard. I felt listened to. The individual was me 98 p.c of the time as a substitute of 70 p.c of the time,’” he stated.

As a result of these calls are additionally extra handy, persons are additionally extra more likely to search care as a substitute of placing it off. Which means there are extra alternatives for the well being system to catch an issue early on, Lengthy stated.

Lengthy is additionally engaged on tech options that assist sufferers get in-person appointments.

Say you might have a well being downside at 6 p.m. on a Friday, and your doctor’s workplace has closed for the weekend. By means of Windfall’s app, a affected person might discover the closest pressing care clinic — say in a Walgreen’s down the road — and guide an appointment for that night, presumably avoiding a protracted, expensive journey to the emergency room.

Lengthy and his staff are even piloting an Uber-like service to request house calls from docs or nurse practitioners. He stated that program is within the very early phases, and is notably fascinating as a result of it’s so new.

“It’s actually attempting to know the demand out there,” he stated. The people who find themselves utilizing the service range vastly, “from someone who’s about to go on a global enterprise journey that must be seen of their workplace” to “of us who haven’t been out of their house in years,” he stated.

Pilots of all these tech options have already rolled out in Seattle and different locations across the nation. However Lengthy stated all these decisions create a brand new, even larger downside.

He stated when folks have so many choices for care, they “don’t actually perceive, ‘OK, nicely, when do I am going to which one? And is it coated? And what’s my co-pay?’ So we’ve quite a lot of work to do as we’re increasing selection to essentially attempt to educate of us [on] what’s the appropriate venue for them.”

Lengthy talks about affected person care in a approach that’s vastly completely different from many healthcare professionals, and his background is one cause for that.

He began his profession as a analysis scientist in NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, engaged on robotics for satellites. He went on to work at a number of impactful startups within the tech and healthcare areas and even spent a time working logistics for Amazon. Lengthy stated that background has helped form certainly one of his most staunch views on healthcare: Higher care requires extra and higher knowledge, and it’s notably vital to share knowledge between programs that at present don’t mesh collectively.

“Absolutely the most vital factor we have to do is this concept of knowledge liquidity between all of our siloed programs, in order that over time we are able to convey all this knowledge collectively,” he stated. That knowledge might result in something from customized healthcare help to “a surveillance system that’ll predict someone leaving the hospital that basically shouldn’t. And it actually comes from that knowledge as a place to begin.”

Hearken to the podcast above, and watch the behind-the-scenes video under.

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