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HealthCare and the focus on reforming health care has been on front pages of newspapers, trade journals, presidential debates dating back to the early 1990’s centered around the well-known mantra… Healthcare is broken.

If we think back, candidate Bill Clinton, while stumping for the White House in ’91 or ‘92, made reforming the US Healthcare System his #1 domestic issue. We all know he was elected to the White House, spent 2 terms there, but nothing ever really came of the reformation of healthcare, from a legislative standpoint, under his presidency. The awareness of the broken nature of healthcare has been at the forefront of, not only our consciousness, but the debate way back some 25 plus years ago.

This year’s Presidential election discussion points include the very important topic around Healthcare, and more importantly, how effective the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, has or has not been. Whether it continues on its torrid pace of increasing deductibles or premiums, is replaced altogether, or a new administration simply reformulates it is anyone’s guess. The issues, as big as the healthcare system is, today it consumes about four trillion dollars every year from a capacity standpoint: claims, utilization, infrastructure build, etc.

Altogether, it’s about 20 percent of our GDP – that’s 4 trillion dollars! As big and crazy as that system is, it is largely broken down into 3 simple categories:
ACCESS INTO THE SYSTEM.
QUALITY OF THE CARE YOU RECEIVE.
And once you’re into the system, and you’re getting care, the third category is
COST…HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

First of all, access to the system is very convoluted. On average, it takes 19.5 days to get an appointment with your Primary Care Physician. Once you are finally inside the clinic or doctor’s office, you might wait the average of 121 minutes sitting and waiting your turn for that visit, and once in your visit, 8 minutes is the average time spent in front of the physician; a complete waste of time. From a cost perspective, according to Truven Health Analytics, April 2013, the average cost of an Emergency Room visit is $1,316. Another hidden cost until you accrue it is a visit to an Urgent Care facility with an average out of pocket expense of $150.00 according to debt.org! No one can argue that costs are out of sight and going higher at a pace that is, not only unacceptable, but unsustainable! We, as Americans, have serious issues!

An alternative is needed if you ask most people and there is one particular movement that wants to bring it to you.
A unique Healthcare solutions company called GLOBAL RESCUE DIRECT, allows its members to use their smartphones to access healthcare professionals, LIVE 24/7, and get an immediate diagnosis and/or prescription through the use of today’s video technology; thus avoiding having to visit costly emergency rooms or wait a long time to see their primary doctor. They identify how they will address the three problem categories of Access, Quality and Cost with their “virtual healthcare” solution.

Virtual healthcare is all about conducting a medical visit in a virtual setting. The term “virtual” means “not physically existing, as such, but made by software to appear to do so.” In laymen’s terms: you are not physically in the doctor office, but you appear to be because of the technology used to bring both doctor and patient together.

Most people have access to a smartphone. Smartphone technology has been a major agent of change in virtual healthcare, combined with regulatory, legislative and licensure law changes enabling those with access to a smartphone, to quite frankly, press a button and access a medical professional. From the comfort of your home, office, or wherever, 24/7/365, you can press an app and talk to a medical professional, virtually instantaneously. Truven Analytics in April 2013, stated 71% of Emergency Room visits could have been avoided. The paradigm shift from running to the Emergency Room or Urgent Care Clinic for things that are not true emergencies have proven to be quite profound from a patient resolution AND employer cost-savings perspective!

A 12-month study, of a cross-section of employees from Home Depot and Rent-A-Center, was conducted by Harvard University. Home Depot contributed 1,300 employees and Rent-A-Center contributed 500 employees. The number of employees is basically a moot point because the virtual healthcare resolution factor was the same for both companies: 92%. On top of the time savings, Home Depot experienced a $5.9 million cost avoidance, while Rent-A-Center experienced a 1.2 million cost avoidance. The savings and cost avoidance is staggering!

How does virtual healthcare address the Access and Quality categories? Staying with the Harvard study between Home Depot and Rent-A-Center, only 8% of the 9,300 encounters between the two company’s virtual healthcare consults resulted in the need for care in the physical presence of a medical professional. This 8% of the consults truly represents a bonafide emergency and they should be in that setting. That means the care for true emergencies will be that much better. For example, reduced wait times, increased response times, quality time with physician, increased morale of healthcare employees, etc. I believe we can expect all kinds of positive results when people are presenting their healthcare need in the appropriate setting.

If you are looking hard enough, you will see various insurance providers advertising the same “virtual care” offerings. You can’t help but drive down the freeway and see them aligning on opposite street corners in major cities across America; billboards talking about hospital systems with an 800 number you can call, big multi-specialty clinics advertising an 800 number available 24/7, etc., Aetna, Cigna, United HealthCare, The Blues…
They all have an 800 number. So, it sounds like virtual healthcare is here to stay. Right?

One should use caution around understanding the motivations of the various different virtual healthcare providers. The major insurance company payers all have 800 virtual healthcare numbers that they want their members to call. One opinion is that each of those 800 numbers are nothing more than an “intake” line. And, make no mistake, they all have them. Not only are insurance companies touting these 1-800 number lines, hospital chains are, as well.

First, we must understand how these insurance companies get paid. They get paid when people encounter health care; when they incur a claim. Even if they are on an administrative services agreement, like a big employer that hires one of the large insurance companies to pay its claims, the insurance company gets a per claim fee, typically. So, they are going to want to funnel people, appropriately and efficiently, into the system. I would offer the hospital chains operate the same. Ultimately, they want you to physically come in to use their services.  Follow the money… that’s how they get paid.

I encourage everyone to consider the motivations of the various players in the virtual healthcare space. True change in healthcare needs to come about. Costs are doubling about every 5-6 years, and is not sustainable.

For more information on how Global Rescue Direct works and how you can save on your Healthcare costs; time in the doctor’s offices and get better quality healthcare through the convenience of your home using your smartphone, please reach out to Denise Stephens at Global Rescue Direct. She will show you how to take charge of your family’s healthcare, save money and time and give you a great peace of mind.

Denise Stephens – 682-518-3117 – www.whyw8.com

 

 

Kurt Nordquist

 

 

 

 

 

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