The internet has revolutionized retail. In travel, consumers use self-service websites to search for destinations, compare offers and purchase a vacation. Amazon has replaced the knowledgeable bookstore owner with breadth and convenience. Yes there are trade-offs, but most consumers are willing to exchange professional expertise for price and convenience on non-critical decisions.
But not so with healthcare. Yes, consumers go online when they have a health question, but sometimes they leave more confused than before. Convenience yes, but expertise? Questionable.
If you ask Dr. Roy Schoenberg, CEO of American Well Systems, he’ll tell you why. “In the consumer’s mind, healthcare is not online portals or health risk assessment tools. Healthcare is about talking to a doctor.” We receive healthcare when we explain our symptoms to a physician, he or she diagnoses the problem and then recommends a remedy.
There’s still a convenience problem, however. Often at the point of need, many of us can’t get in to see our doctor. It may be 2:00 a.m. and your child is crying, or you are experiencing pain and your doctor’s calendar is booked for the next three weeks.
But what if you could log on to the internet (convenience) and talk live with a physician (expertise)? And what if that physician could call up your health records as the connection was being made? And finally, what if this “doctor’s visit” was covered by your health insurance (price)?