Customer Experience and Design

Imagine all the people…without healthcare insurance?

This morning a colleague forwarded a Fast Company article entitled “The Mayo Clinic’s New Doctor is an iPhone.” The article describes a new Mayo Clinic concierge medicine via mobile device that is subscription based. For $50 per month (per household) the Mayo Clinic basically offers unlimited access to their nurse’s line powered by iPhone virtual visits. The service includes:

  • 06FOB-MEDIUM-SPAN-articleLargeReal-time video chats with Mayo Clinic nurses
  • Personally-tailored health information culled from Mayo Clinic databases
  • A “symptom checker” that incorporate’s individual user’s health histories
  • Access to a personal medical concierge who can provide more information or schedule patients’ doctor appointments

Programs like this are becoming increasingly popular. As I mentioned in the Connected Health trends series, Time Warner Business Class announced it was venturing into the world of virtual medicine through a partnership with the Cleveland Clinic. The program is part of Time Warner Cable’s Home Health Monitoring network that was designed to connect healthcare providers to patients in their homes. It will provide secure, encrypted, two-way video conferencing between patients and Cleveland Clinic providers on a subscription basis.

One of the first widely noted technology based concierge practices to pick up speed was Hello Health. I wrote about them in a white paper back in 2011. Hello Health developed a healthcare business model that meets non-traditional patient demands (i.e. uninsured and under-insured patients). Hello Health was a paperless primary care practice, based in Brooklyn, that used social media-like capabilities to communicate with patients. Hello Health touted “healthcare freedom” through the use of their web-based patient communication, practice management, and electronic health records. Access to these tools were provided in exchange for a small monthly fee lower than health insurance premiums and co-pays. Patients could send an instant message to a doctor via a secure, HIPAA certified messaging tool, for example. An email response from the doctor were free, and patients were charged an additional fee for a “virtual visit”, office visit, or an actual house call. Hello Health has since been acquired by a firm in Canada that has turned the technology around Hello Health into a concierge EHR option for healthcare providers.

Healthcare Without that Pesky Insurance Part
I think that the important thing to note here is that these healthcare services are subscription based and widely do not accept insurance. If I were a major health insurance plan, then I would be paying very close attention to this as a subsection of a competitive analysis. I’ve said it many times before. If health plans don’t get their B2C house in order, then they are dropping the barriers to entry into the insurance marketplace significantly. You will see more provider based models like this. Give it a couple of years until you get the Progressive or Geico for health insurance in the marketplace. I’m not quite sure what that will look like, but I think it is coming.

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Melody Smith Jones

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