Where are we now?
Our current healthcare system is largely still a brick and mortar, in-person setup… where people who are sick go to be seen, and treated by medically trained individuals. Current trends are now pointing to virtual health care.
What changes are coming to virtual health care?
Virtual health care is now is playing a vital role in the COVID-19 response. Could this be a tipping point in the future of healthcare? The answer is absolutely.
With remote work on the rise, many health care providers have turned to virtual health care. Some providers haven’t had the option, such as physical therapists or eye doctors, but for those that have, it’s proven fruitful. According to a recent report, “In the U.S., the telehealth market now has an anticipated five-year compound annual growth rate of 38.2 percent.” Some forward-looking innovators anticipate that the next five years will hold growth in even more areas.
First comes telehealth, then comes… drive through doctors?
One prediction that has recently garnered attention is the concept of drive-through doctors. While still in the early stages of development, the idea would be that patients who are currently avoiding hospitals could find a middle ground.
Instead of entirely avoiding the hospital by staying home or having to face the risks of going into the hospital, patients could go to the hospital and stay in their cars as a type of waiting room. If necessary, they could go into the hospital. But the default would be to wait in their car, instead of in a room or hallway inside. Healthcare providers would make the rounds to each car to assess if a treatment could be given then and there or if it was advisable to be admitted to the hospital.
This option is currently of interest to at least two hospitals in the Northeast. While the timeline is uncertain, it will be interesting to watch if and how it unfolds, as well as what other challenges or opportunities arise alongside it.
What payment options are there?
This prediction raises the question of how this service would be covered. If the car is taking the place of a waiting room, where certain treatments could be given, would normal health insurance cover care? If not, could pre-tax accounts or digital wallet payments be used? There are more questions than answers at this point.
The recent legislation of the CARES Act aside, it is infrequent for the IRS to update what constitutes an eligible item. However, with the potential for a second wave of coronavirus sweeping the United States, they might consider making an update as alternatives to remote health care start to emerge. If this does happen, you can be confident we will let you know.