Intro: Despite the progress made in recent years, the healthcare sector still faces many challenges that need to be addressed if we are to improve the quality of care and outcomes for all. In this important three-part series, Tom Spencer, Co-Founder and CEO of HealtheMed shares his vision of the future of healthcare, based on 30 years of physician management, managed care contracting and health care technology innovation.
1. What is your vision for how healthcare delivery works in 20 years?
We must completely re-examine our assumptions and health delivery strategies. The future of healthcare is customer based because there is no difference between a doctor-patient and company-customer relationship. Today’s healthcare market driven by third-party reimbursements puts an artificial barrier between the doctor and the patient. At the very core of the Clinic@Home delivery model is enabling a direct doctor-patient relationship for our most vulnerable citizens so they get the primary care they need to be healthier.
2. Why is the doctor-patient relationship central to your vision?
Because it results in better transparency and better care. When doctors make house calls the doctor sees the patient in their day-to-day environment and can adjust care based on a clearer picture of the patient’s social determinants of health. And because they know each other and have built trust with each other, the visits are more effective and follow up more successful.
Through Clinic@Home we are able to provide the doctor with a continuous flow of patient data so that the doctor can be more effective each visit.
3. How will this solve the biggest healthcare challenges we are facing?
Ultimately, a consistent doctor-patient relationship that provides better care will mean that payers (CMS and insurance companies) will pay less for care because patients will be healthier, and treatment quality will be better. With the systems that we have for managing patient data and care in a real-time mode available to doctors, they can become very effective managers and educators of their patient population, or customer base.
In the case of Clinic@Home, patients get four wellness visits each year which helps them stay healthier and more engaged in their care. The result is lower utilization of higher cost care settings like the emergency room and hospital systems.
4. What about the population that has trouble accessing doctors?
Many of the people we are treating in the special needs population have problems getting to the clinic that healthier populations don’t experience. They have limited transportation options, they have phobias, and they lack the capabilities to effectively manage their own health care. So they use the ER as their primary care. We must bring the doctor to them and facilitate a consistent primary care doctor-patient relationship. This was really the genesis of our Clinic@Home in-home system of care.
5. Is telemedicine a substitute for in-home doctor visits?
As more doctors embrace virtual care such as telemedicine, we need to recognize that healthcare is still a human-to-human business. There isn’t any machine or technology that’s going to replace human contact, especially during a wellness visit, for example.
Clinic@Home, which delivers telehealth and remote patient monitoring, is unique because we send a nurse into the home for each wellness visit to ensure the visit goes smoothly, tests can be performed, all patient questions are answered, and follow up is clear.