Visiting YOUR Doctor Just Got Easier

Doc-in-the-box is a term that was first seen in print in the 1980s, as a not so flattering description of health care providers who see patients either at a walk-in or freestanding clinic. Patients are usually charged a flat fee or hourly rate for services rendered, and in recent years it has become the model for visiting a provider online. But with a telemedicine industry that is predicted by a BBC Research report to grow to $27.3 billion by 2016, the doc-in-a-box model has quickly become outdated, giving way to technologies that directly connect patients to their current providers. Many patients now see their primary doctor online resulting in the doc-in-a-box model becoming a thing of the past.

This niche market is dissolving underneath them. Early on, doc-in-a-box companies were making hefty margins by offering access to online doctors when no one else was. But now this failing business model is being supplanted by telemedicine; doctors and administrators are revamping traditional service methods by utilizing technology to provide virtual, continuous care.

Here are ten reasons the doc-in-a-box model is a thing of the past:

1. Insurance brokers report that doc-in-the-box purveyors have slashed prices in half within the past 45 to 60 days. This is either a going out of business sale or a desperate attempt to compete in a saturated or disappearing market.

2. Insurance payers end up paying twice for the same services provided if the box doc refers patients back to their personal physicians.

3. Not all insurance companies cover these virtual clinics, and patients may unwittingly be on the hook for the fee.

4. It’s impersonal and unsafe medicine. Patients’ pre-existing condition(s), medical history, and personal idiosyncrasies are unknown to the doc-in-the-box. These providers have no stake in the patients’ outcome and health.

5. No continuity of care - one visit, one time only. Even if the patient returns, chances of seeing or talking to the same provider are slim to none.

6. Many docs aren’t willing to work for these establishments leaving patients to see practitioners and not actual MDs. Many of these online clinics have high turnover rates.

7. Doc-in-a-box models redirect patients away from their primary care docs, not only for the initial consult but for all follow up care.

8. Box doctors are significantly limited in what they can and cannot prescribe, not to mention diagnose. Many state laws require a patient to be examined in person before prescriptions can be written online.

9. Patients are already seeing better service from their current providers, meaning telemedicine is here to stay. More providers, clinics, health and hospital systems, and payers are getting on board with telemedicine and it isn’t difficult to see why speaking with your doctor online is well received.

10. The current telemedicine approach allows patients to virtually see and be cared for by their primary and present doctors. TruClinic technology collects information electronically from any internet-accessible device, allowing patients to connect directly with their providers from their own homes. All current care providers can participate in, and not just be an observer in a patient’s care, making follow up simpler and more convenient.

As more patients demand virtual care, healthcare business administrators, physicians, hospital systems, and payers will increasingly look for new ways to utilize technology to take better care of existing patients and attract new patients, thereby increasing profitability and growth within existing clinic business models. Telemedicine is now and doc-in-a-box is already outdated.


4/17/2015 7:00:00 AM
Joe Stewart
Written by Joe Stewart
As a healthcare innovation and transformation advocate, investigative journalist, writer, and self-described queen of content, I am committed to sharing updated, relevant, and trending healthcare industry information with consumers, practitioners and vendors.
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This is certainly a timely topic for me...

I am engaged in the launch of a new telemedicine technology that will be released in May 2015...

The internet is becoming a medium for a broader range of communication, beyond linguistic and visual...

And the potential for that is barely contemplated...
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