The past year brought us an incredible collection of tech devices geared towards improving medical care. It also saw a lot of innovation in the realm of medical delivery models. Here are a few very unique and innovative trends and people to watch for in 2014.
AtlasMD is a direct care family practice in Wichita, Kansas that has adopted a startup-like philosophy with its medical care. In order to be as innovative as they are, AtlasMD does not accept any insurance at all. Instead, they offer extremely low cost monthly fees (from $10-100 per month) in addition to the bare-bones cost of whatever service you may need. Since they do not accept insurance, all of their prices are either negotiated lab prices or predetermined prices in relation to their costs. An EKG comes out to less than a dollar while cholesterol tests will cost you only $3. They have grown at a frantic pace, hired multiple new physicians and provide extremely high quality care at a 1/100th of the cost that insurance companies would charge. Sticking with their innovative philosophy, AtlasMD recently finished their new electronic medical record. Mobile friendly and sleek with iPhone like usability, it is likely a dream come true to doctors everywhere dealing with their klunky medical record counterparts, or worse yet, paper. AtlasMD is emerging as a powerhouse in the direct care medicine and a true example of how ingenuity, technology and innovation can dramatically improve patient care.
Medicast is a service that brings medical care to you. Using GPS and smartphone technology, Medicast lets you request a house call from a physician near you for $299. They also offer a membership packages for $49-69 a month. It is only currently available in South Florida, but they are expanding to other major cities in the near future. Medicast is very transparent with their prices, which is definitely a positive. However the $299 fee, which is quite high, does not cover all care. There is a $50 after hours fee that applies for overnight calls, and $100 extra dollars if you need an injection. All in all, this service is great for certain individuals who may be unable to get to their doctor in time, but may have a limited clientele due to their relatively high prices.
While Medicast targets consumers directly with their business model, Sherpaa approaches other enterprises, and is one of the most innovative companies in the tech-health space this past year. Founded by Jay Parkinson MD, Sherpaa is a guide for all things insurance, targeting businesses that insure their own workers. Sherpaa has a team of doctors on call that any worker can contact 24/7. For example, instead of going to the emergency room after cutting your finger, employees of companies using Sherpaa can call a physician, email them photos and have a conversation with a real doctor to determine the extent of the injury and if an emergency room visit is necessary. This is extremely convenient for the employee and potentially saves thousands of dollars a year for the employer. Sherpaa also uses their extensive insurance industry expertise to help small businesses navigate the daunting sea of information involved in insuring their workers.
All these companies are variations on a similar theme: creating a lower cost, more efficient way of delivering a complicated medical service. These ideas can only happen from the ground up and not via top down commands and regulations. Though a series of micro experiments throughout the entire healthcare economy, the best companies will rise to the top, improving healthcare for all. We will see if one of these three companies is up to the task in 2014.