Not too long ago, receiving healthcare involved traveling to a larger metropolitan area, finding a semi-qualified physician, and hoping both that they had some familiarity with your disease and that their prescribed treatment didn’t make your condition worse.
Today, receiving healthcare is easier. Not only are healthcare providers better trained, but there are more solutions for connecting providers and patients with convenience and consideration for cost. Even better, as technology advances, new health delivery systems are emerging — like these four healthcare delivery systems, which are changing the ways people interact with healthcare in general:
“Managed care” is a term that describes health care plans that focus on reducing costs without compromising the quality of care. Provider networks, provider oversight, prescription drug tiers, and other features common to health plans are elements of managed care. HMOs and PPOs are both managed care plans with different services and systems, like a focus on preventative care or a fee-for-service system.
Most people who have health plans have managed care plans — which means this health delivery system isn’t exactly new. Still, managed care plans are continuously undergoing change, thanks to the ever-shifting healthcare laws in the United States and other developed and developing nations. It is important for those interested in global health delivery to keep watch over the evolution of managed care, which could change drastically over the coming years.
Concierge medicine bills itself as the most convenient way to gain healthcare services. Unlike other health delivery models, concierge services are always available to those who subscribe; concierge doctors are on the clock 24/7, and patients are guaranteed the ability to make appointments the same day they need them. For this remarkable access, patients pay a flat monthly fee — like a retainer fee.
Roughly 20 percent of physicians offer concierge services, and that number is growing every year as more healthcare providers recognize the benefits of this healthcare delivery option. However, concierge medicine simply isn’t available to everyone; the flat monthly rates tend to be much too high for the average patient to afford, which means this enviable health delivery model is only truly available to the wealthy. It is unlikely that concierge medicine will disappear in the near future, but it is more unlikely that it will become a dominant health delivery system for everyone.
Most patients prefer to have quite a bit of control over their health-related decisions; few are content to leave the decision-making up to a healthcare provider. For these patients, there are self-directed healthcare services, which allow patients to make care-related decisions for themselves — like hiring providers of their choosing — with minimal intervention. Medicaid is the prime example of self-directed service.
This healthcare delivery system emerged in the 1990s, but in the 2010s, U.S. laws radically expanded who has access to self-directed services. It is possible that additional legislation could again increase the number of patients who can take advantage of this system. Then again, it could be that increasing numbers of people come to rely solely on Medicaid, thereby increasing the number of patients who might be tasked with self-directing their healthcare. Regardless, it is likely that self-directed services will grow in prominence into the future.
Telemedicine is the newest health delivery system, but it is rapidly becoming among the most widely available delivery systems in the world. Telemedicine, also called telehealth, uses technology to allow patients to reach healthcare providers remotely, without the need for in-person appointments.
Thanks in no small part to the global pandemic, the number of physicians offering telemedicine spiked from around 20 percent to more than 80 percent in less than a year. What was once a tool used primarily in rural communities or by homebound patients has suddenly become a common resource for almost everyone, and it is likely to remain that way. Already, many health delivery companies have ideas for offering urgent care services through telemedicine, which could expand the importance of this health delivery system even more.
Patients need healthcare, and they have many different methods for obtaining it. Managed care, concierge medicine, self-directed service, and telemedicine might be relatively new health delivery systems, but they promise to be integral to the future of healthcare.