Post by Nigel Smith

When reading the morning news recently, I was stunned to come across the following headline: Patients aren’t sold on virtual health benefits, payers find.We live in a tech-obsessed world in which American adults spend more than 11 hours per day watching, reading, listening to or simply interacting with media. So why aren’t patients embracing virtual care with the same excitement as other technologies?

Improving Existing Models

Sure, I get that a quick Facetime with one’s better half or a fun few mins with your kids is slightly different than being on video chat with your doctor. But let’s be honest — when was the last time you actually felt like a visit to your MD for something rather mundane left anything beyond a neutral feeling about the experience.

Was it on time? Did you have to take a half day from work? How much did it cost beyond the expected co-pay? Personally, I’m not all that ‘satisfied’ that my efforts to get in front of a clinical person are worth it most of the time. I’m not embarrassed to admit I can’t even name my PCP.

What Does the Future of Virtual Health Hold?

We trust an app on our phones to manage everything from our calendars to our finances, careers and social relationships, so it seems like patients should be more open and receptive to new ways to access healthcare.

If Apple can receive FDA clearance for the iPhone’s ability to measure heart rhythm, I have to assume we’ll be seeing more virtual diagnostic tools soon. Imagine having an at-home otoscope that would allow doctors to virtually diagnose ear infections and save parents the trouble of taking their sick child to the pediatrician all winter long. Both of my children had chronic ear infections when they were under the age of two and having access to this kind of care would have been a lifesaver – and timesaver – both at home and in the workplace.

As healthcare journalist and Twitter fan-favorite @chrissyfarr has pointed out — the healthcare system sucks and is not designed for the individual patient. Certainly not all options will improve virtual health, and not all platforms will be well-received by every patient. What is true is that current models of care have room for improvement, and I applaud those trying to improve the patient experience and outcomes through tech.

Nigel Smith is the CEO and founder of Next Step Communications.