Back in 1930s, 40% of the doctor-patient meetings were done through house calls. This was the general practice, wherein a doctor or a professional used to visit the patient’s place, following a consultation request from them. By 1980s, this was reduced to 0.6% as the advancing technology and specialization was not reachable to patients out of clinical/hospital premises.
The healthcare industry has evolved a lot in past decades. Today, when consumer-convenience is the new currency in healthcare delivery, the old-school model of delivering patient care straight to their doorsteps (at the time and place of their choice) is back again. But this time, with a different approach.
In the burgeoning on-demand economy, where consumers get instant access to customized services, healthcare has found a productive space to grow. The convenience to access doctors, medicine, and other medical services on-demand has ameliorated the traditional care delivery models in terms of efficiency, consumer convenience, and cost.
What’s triggering the growth of on-demand healthcare services?
1. Telemedicine and Communication Advances
Booking an appointment to see a doctor and then taking time out from a busy day schedule for in-face consultation is a challenge these days. Thanks to the significant advances in telemedicine and communication channels that people prefer to get treated via texts, calls, emails, or videos for acute care, chronic disease management, and other non-serious ailments/issues.
2. Consumerization of Healthcare
Adoption of technologies that originate and develop in the consumer space have been taking part in improving healthcare services. Healthcare consumerization along with telemedicine advances are taking strides in better care delivery, which includes but is not limited to booking an appointment for consultation, having eVisits (via video calls), getting prescription refills, ordering medicines, accessing health information, and more.
Healthcare consumerism is set to cause a 360 degree disruption in digital healthcare arena. Other than aiding patients to access care, the core drivers of consumerism, i.e. mHealth apps and wearables are enabling the stakeholders (in care-delivery cycle) to augment quality of care at different stages. For example:
- Enable care providers to manage chronic disease of patients
- Collect data to help researchers create precision medicine
- Improvement in clinical trial results and treatment outcomes
3. Patient’s Accountability for their Health
Healthcare consumers are particular about their health, more than ever. They are likely to look around for solutions that help them track their health vitals, fitness levels, and take steps to improve their overall health. To reach out to the physician, therapist, or any specialist of their choice, they are searching and booking them without delays (via internet). This is not just enabling them to consult practitioners within the vicinity but also reach out those available miles away.
4. Technology Advances in Healthcare
Technology is the core driver of on-demand economy. Some of the disruptive technologies like Blockchain, IoT, Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality have found their potential use cases in the health-tech industry. The evolving technology is enabling care-delivery in most regulated, secure, and innovative manner. Imagine real-time health vitals tracked through wearable is routed to healthcare professional via a mobile app.
Benefits of On-Demand Healthcare Services
Certainly, on-demand healthcare cannot replace specialized treatments at health centers but they definitely bring an array of advantages for all stakeholders on the chain.
- On-demand healthcare platforms make it much more simple for patients to reach out their consultants, without having to miss work assignments.
- eVisits reduces the wait-time of doctor and patient and increases the consultation time, which assures that diagnosis, treatment, follow-ups are done as per convenience of both the ends.
- The on-demand economy is known to generate great job opportunities, irrespective of the industry. For the healthcare sector, it create job opportunities for physicians who are on a look out for supplemental job or flexible work hours. Doctors can work part-time or full-time on these platforms at a schedule that they want.
- Estimating the cost of healthcare services have been a challenge for patients so far. However, with on-demand platforms, patients get a visibility over the cost that will have to pay for availing care. Studies say that a virtual visit costs 40% less than in-person visit and is 28% cheaper than emergency care.
Some of the Disruptive Healthcare On-Demand Startups and Funding Trends
In the recent years, the investment in on-demand healthcare startups have experienced a major hike. According to Mercom Capital Group, venture capitalists funded a total of 46 telehealth deals in 2013 with investments amounting to 93 million USD. By 2016, it spiked to 660 million USD with 86 telemedicine and remote monitoring deals. Venture Capitalists see a million dollar opportunity in on-demand healthcare services and these startups manifests the same.
Teladoc is a Texas-based telehealth company that provide on-demand remote medical care through mobile, internet, video, and phone. It raised $80 million in Initial Public Offering and a whopping investment of $172.9 million over all.
Practo is an India-based technology firm that allow consumers to find and book appointments with doctors and diagnostic labs. In 5 rounds of funding, Practo has managed to raise $243 million.
Talkspace, a New York based online and mobile therapy provider have $59 million investment to take their idea a step further.
The list of some amazing on-demand healthcare startups is long. With venture capitalists and other investors having an eye on innovative care-delivery ideas, getting financial aid to take an idea forward is a clear possibility.
Healthcare services in different verticals, such as fitness, medicine, consultation is reinventing the care model. With convenience delivery turning out to be the new business model of care providers, investors have their upfront support to the startups who are achieving this goal in the most efficient manner.
On-demand healthcare services: Getting started
On-demand healthcare is a trend, which is here to stay. It’s poised to revive the high-cost, inconvenient models of care-delivery with consumerization and technology advances.
With on-demand healthcare models like iSikCure, Lybrate, Daffodil has helped innovative startups to get their idea off the ground. If you too have an idea that you think can disrupt the way digital health industry operates, you can share it with our industry experts to understand its practicality, future potential, and get implementation support.