Patients increasingly are looking for and want digital access to health care, so-called digital front doors. In a free-market economy, this is what would happen. Various organisations would start to offer telehealth portals for either a few euros a month or a pay-as-you-go option. Consumers would pile in, and we would then see comparison websites and consumer associations rating each on the basis of its offer. As the market grew, so we would see growing functionality.
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In fact, this is already happening in first markets, according to insights from Siemens Healthineers’ thought leadership team. Dr. Herbert Staehr, Siemens global head of transforming care delivery, points to Amazon Care which is being rolled out in the USA, to Babylon’s big US push as well as a national Chinese champion, Ping An Good Doctor. Big hospital groups are also moving in. Quiron Salud, the Spanish subsidiary of Fresenius Helios, is offering a digital front door, Quiron Salud Connect One, for as little as €6.90 a month for access to primary care and specialist doctors. And Fresenius Helios has the clear intention to build a global asset-light platform to deliver mass health care.
Of course, particularly in Europe, health is not a free market, but one controlled by the state with powerful influencers in the medical profession. For instance, Staehr says when considering the German market conditions, to get Germans to pay €6.90 a month as co-pay would be hard as with about 90% statutory insured population, they are not used to spend additionally for seeing a medical professional. In the UK and Sweden, HBI has written many news stories on the conflict that is inherent between an NHS system and digital incomers. But conversations are taking place and insurers statutory and private are keen on the idea as they can see that it will avoid expensive detours in patient pathways.
And it is impossible to put the digital genie back in the box. A recent Siemens Healthineers Insights paper on the topic notes that according to research 60% of patients who used virtual care tools during the pandemic want to use them more in the future and that 90% of patients who tried new apps and devices liked the experience.
We will be interviewing Staehr in more depth in the next few weeks on how the sector and technology will evolve, Francesco de Meo, CEO, Helios Fresenius is speaking at our annual conference HBI 2021 Sept 20-22, and you can view all published Siemens Healthineers thought leadership papers here.We would welcome your thoughts on this story. Email your views to Max Hotopf or call 0207 183 3779.