File this one under “doctor/physician competition.” It’s no surprise that, for most providers, the competitive landscape has shifted. But what’s unusual here is the emerging trend of online medical advice—live, immediate and direct from doctor—for a fee.
This relatively new healthcare delivery channel has not only taken root, but it’s likely to continue to grow as a competitive factor for medical practice marketing. The evolution of marketing online medical advice (not just information, but a physician consultation) seems to have grown, in part, from consumer searches.
Many estimates have it that 60 percent, or more, of the general public looks online for medical information. What’s more, satisfaction surveys say that many patients and prospective patients would welcome more digital interaction with their physician by email, online lab results, post-visit questions, etc. (Some, but not many, physician offices are beginning to respond to this demand.)
Consulting a physician online.
These and other factors have created a fertile ground for the patient-in-need to find fast medical answers from a doctor as close as the webcam, computer, smart phone, tablet or video conference. Each of the following examples presents slightly different features, benefits and fee structure. But all are platforms for immediate, private and confidential connectivity with a physician.
For these platforms, the physician-direct medical consultation is as close and convenient as the home computer. And if you track the evolutionary stages from the nearly extinct “house calls,” through the present day virtual visits, could "health holograms" be just beyond the horizon? By whatever equipment, the virtual doc channel for patients is already part of your marketing competition.
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