Healthcare needs to meet patients where they are. This used to be the standard: doctors made house calls, coming straight to you. But the heavy industrialization of healthcare turned hospitals into large factory-like systems. These medical parks are physically disconnected from where people live, work, and play. This means today, many patients have to go far out of their way to get care.
In the future, healthcare needs to meet patients where they are once again. Virtual care is a good solution for this, but it’s only one piece of the puzzle—and its scope is limited. Over the last 10 years, urgent care clinics have started a trend of more proximal access points, which patients appreciate. The trouble with most of those is that they’re disconnected from your overall care; they’re isolated transactions rather than a part of your ongoing care.
Patients want to be able to get care from the same providers, whether it’s a virtual video consultation or a quick visit to a neighborhood clinic. Technology is making it possible for providers like Carbon Health to offer a wider variety of access points, including clinics, video, remote patient monitoring, pop-up clinics, and even providing care at patients’ worksites when it’s relevant. Across all of these channels, patients interact with the same team of people. They enjoy a streamlined, interconnected experience that obviates the need to navigate different patient registration systems, fill out the same forms multiple times, or repeat themselves to every clinician.
We call this omnichannel care—and we think it’s the future.
One novel solution for ensuring healthcare is within reach of everyone who needs it is the pop-up clinic. These are lightweight mobile clinics that are easy to scale and can be placed in close proximity to people in any community. At one of these clinics, your doctor is available through video, while the nursing staff is available in person. Most of the time, in-person care requirements can be met by nurses and don’t need a doctor to be physically present. This allows our pop-ups to handle 90 percent of primary and urgent care needs.
One of the biggest advantages of this model is that it makes efficient use of physicians’ time. Physicians are the scarcest resource in the healthcare system: we have 30 percent fewer primary care providers than we need in this country. This becomes an even bigger problem in rural areas, where it’s nearly impossible to place a clinician within a 10-minute radius of every patient. This problem is so extreme in some places that the areas are called “healthcare deserts.” Our omnichannel model allows a single physician to serve multiple neighborhoods or regions while keeping the physical access point close to the patient.
Why do we care so much about proximity? Because one desire that unites every single American is the desire for good healthcare we can rely on. To make that happen, care needs to be part of our daily routines. Any barrier to accessing care, whether cost or distance, means fewer people who will be able to lead fulfilling, productive lives. Healthcare access is the first step toward a healthy community.