Doctor House Calls in the Uber Age of Patient Convenience

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

doctor house callFifty-plus years ago, a doctor would come to the patient about 40 percent of the time. The nearly-lost practice (and nearly forgotten name) was known as “a house call,” and it all but disappeared 30 years ago. That’s changing…again…

Customer convenience is the new currency in healthcare delivery and marketing today.

More than ever, the traditional “doctor visit” is driven by the consumer/patients’ schedule and needs. The patient-centric model is eroding the old-school doctor-centric model. And convenience in care is a strong competitive force.

Marketing-savvy providers are adapting with the consumer-convenience trends that are emerging as healthcare continues to reinvent itself. In addition to the competitive dynamics and change agents of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the forces at work include:

  • An instant-gratification attitude among buyers
  • Healthcare’s newfound wave of consumerism
  • Market share grabbed up by retail and big-box medical resources
  • Telehealth, telemedicine and remote/e-health advances
  • Universal availability of high-speed Internet access
  • Concierge and in-home practices

[bctt tweet="Convenience is the new currency in healthcare delivery and marketing today."]Emerging trend becomes patient expectation…

The unbending, and anything-but-convenient, nine-to-five scheduling regimen is giving way to a “new normal” of empowered customers. The house call business, and “healthcare for the Uber age,” is getting traction in some metropolitan areas of the country. Ordering-up a doctor at your doorstep is as close as an app on your smartphone.

Among the startup companies making news recently are:

HEAL: In Los Angeles and select cities in California, reaching out to HEAL promises an on-demand (and quality-assured) doctor will come to you in two hours or less.

PAGER: Another app-connected service, PAGER provides a doctor for individuals, or on-demand personal care for employees of a business in the New York City area.

MEND: In Dallas and certain sections of north Texas, MEND provides on-demand medical care “conveniently delivered to you.”

Watchwords for healthcare marketing…

convenientThese and a few other “on-demand” healthcare delivery services have several things in common. Generally, they are investor-backed enterprises that are banking on the “when and where you need it” concept that has made Uber and Lyft new forces in personal transportation. Initial visit costs are as low as $50; similar to an Urgent Care visit and usually less than an Emergency Department.

But the chief sell-point—and the primary insight for healthcare marketing—is patient convenience. They all emphasize quality care that comes to you; in home, office or hotel. They dramatically differentiate their services by saying they “want to change the way you access and experience healthcare.”

And for most, the starting point is a smartphone app that makes it all fast and immediate. It’s easy for patients to be attracted to medical services that avoid or eliminate protracted delays of calling for an appointment and waiting a day or a week for the provider to see you in their office.

Healthcare delivery is changing with a powerful need to be more than patient friendly. The new patient demand, and customer expectation, is healthcare delivery that is more convenient, transparent and affordable. Convenience is the new currency in the Uber age.

Additional articles are available here: Convenience: The Frightening Undercurrent of Healthcare Competition and The Convenience Economy and Healthcare’s Grand Canyon Gap.

Stewart Gandolf, MBA

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