Well, I'm having trouble posting a comment to my own blog. Pretty amazing.
So, here's my response to Donna Cusano, who posted a comment:
Thanks for the comment, Donna. Interesting to see the other side of innovation. We know that innovations come from invention of the technology first, and use second. The inventors of telephones, phonographs, and radios had no idea of the wide usages that would come.
Seems to me that telehealth will be the same. Invent, and then see who can come up with the perfect usages. I’d say that the most obvious use would be in the Third World, and the rural parts of first world. The problem would be money – the same reason there are no doctors in the Third World is why the prospect of profit would be difficult. But there are donors, there is some money somewhere, and maybe that would work.
I think the problem of adult acute but probably not serious care is a problem of organization. Pediatrics isn’t so much of a problem, usually, although more could be done. I think most pediatric practices are like ours – acute illness will be seen on the same day, even on weekends. The main problem is with adults – why adult practices are not set up to see same day sick patients escapes me! Also, why hospitals can’t set up urgent care better is not clear. Hospitals are generally just poorly run, as we all know. Also, they can charge so much for an ER visit and get it – so why settle for an urgent care visit? So, I guess the Retail Based Clinics really do rely on just low cost.
But if that’s the case, would telehealth be low cost and thus competitive? I can’t see how that would be the case.
I agree 100% that the UHC demos of telehealth were based on PR for impressionable Reps and Senators. I agree it was part of their strategy as they won the Health Reform fight. So, I wonder why you think that UHC will be toast with health non-reform? Seems to me the insurance companies are going to get lots and lots of new subscribers with no significant limits on profit. Their problem will be what to do with all the money.
If I owned the UHC zoo, I think I would identify areas that could potentially be like Intermountain, and the Grand Junction Colorado system. I would partner with some, buy some, and then try to spread like ink spots. If I got a great team together, pretty soon I would be predominant in health care in a large part of the country. It would not be easy, it would take real investment and team building, it would take creativity – all of this would be alien to UHC as presently constituted. But that’s what I would do.