Take a look at this video from the Worrell design firm, who took part in the recent Health 2.0 confab in San Francisco. They took some insights from following ER folks around and charting their workflow into designing a better way for people to interact with the health system from their homes. At about the 4-minute mark, they start discussing what kind of home health kit/device would work, and then there is a demo of a mother consulting about her child’s flu, and getting actual testing, care, and monitoring from a live nurse remotely, all from this kit. According to the member of the design team whom I spoke with, the kit shown is a real prototype, and all the technology used is currently available.
What this says to me in the frame of my discussion of change in healthcare: If the technology is all there, why don’t we do this already? Because in a fee-for-service system there is no billing code for remote care. But: We are going to see many more healthcare organizations move into ACO-like risk contracting relationships with customers. If the healthcare organization is at risk for the costs of the care for the family in the demo, treating them in the home through such a device (one device per family) could be far cheaper, faster, and more effective than getting them to come into an urgent care clinic — cheap enough that the healthcare organization would simply buy the devices and give them to the covered families.
So as major provider organizations move into risk-contracted relationships, actual medical care that would now be taking place in the built clinical environment would be taking place in the home, supported by a live nurse monitor in a dedicated environment at the clinic. The home becomes an extension of the clinic, not only for the chronically ill and frail elderly whom we now might tend with home care, but for the well family in primary care.