Health 2.0 and Beyond: Hospital System Newest Player in Retail Healthcare Market

MedStar Health and Consumer Health Services, Inc. will staff 4 MD and DC area RiteAid pharmacies with docs, creating a new player in the retail clinic sector with PromptCare.

Check out this story in The Baltimore Sun, and an AP article here. Here's the news release on MedStar's site.

As the articles mention, using docs is a departure from what's become standard minute-clinic operating practice...usually locations are run by NPs and/or PAs.

PromptCare docs will also have admitting privileges to Baltimore and DC MedStar Health facilities including Georgetown University Hospital, Montgomery General, Franklin Square, Harbor Hospital, Good Samaritan, and Union Memorial.

The clinic docs can access MedStar records, creating a new network of personal health portability.

A la the Starbucks model (cash and carry for a consumer good), patients at PromptCare can pay with cash, credit, or their well-loved insurance plastic.

Administrators are of course hopeful patients wanting to use EDs for non-emergent conditions will visit PromptCare sites instead-essential it's offsite sourcing of urgentcare/fast-track type service lines.

The news is also interesting because it marks the entry of a massive East Coast hospital conglomerate into a space that's been typically run by quick and nimble entrepreneurial startups.

At this Saturday's Health 2.0 Unconference NL we'll be talking a bit about the evolution of Health d0t-0's.

I'm defining Health 3.0, the next generation of 2.0, in terms similar to the 3Cs of web 3.0: content, community, and commerce (we've already got content and community, now Health 2.0 firms are working to create consumer-centric commerce models that work).

MedStar's PromptCare clinics fascinate because they're jumping right over Health 3.0, leaping ahead to implement what I think we'll see with the arrival of Health 4.0.

An iteration marked by the need for coherence, Health 4.0 will integrate consumer-centric care models into established, traditionally slower-moving, "brick and mortar" healthcare organizations like hospital systems.

In other words, it's taking the care to where consumers live, work, play, and purchase...we'll see Health 4.0 relationships meeting the healthcare and wellness consumer in her natural habitats, just as MedStar is doing with this new model.

"Health care has been late to having a consumer focus, and consumers are increasingly demanding service in a variety of settings that are much more convenient," said Eric R. Wagner, a senior vice president of managed care for MedStar, a nonprofit. "We're taking health care to a place where consumers already are."

And here's an even better way to take it to where consumers live - true Health 4.0 will bring brick-and-mortar integration of ONLINE care delivery, not just research and coordination of care.

PromptCare could herald the arrival of Health 4.0 by integrating online services, including a way to check wait times on the web.

If I'm a consumer and trying to determine which location to visit, let me hop online at the PromptCare website and check out IN REAL TIME how many patients are at each clinic site, AND (here's the kicker) their wait times to dispo.

That way I, as a healthcare consumer, can figure out where the longest wait will be and go to a clinic with more available space/time to serve.

I don't want to wait for care, and your clinic providers don't want me to slam their busy site with my runny nose when I can go to another PromptCare across town that's catering to a single patient.

With this type of online, web-based HIT system, PromptCare (or any other retail medicine outfit reading this blog) can create a more efficient, more-customer friendly system that aggregates the total net benefit of consumptive capitalism.

With an online system showing me where the bottlenecks are (a la Yahoo! Traffic), I can create my own workaround and choose a different route, and thus assume a participatory role in creating more effective care delivery for myself (and thus for all others traveling the same highway to health

RiteAid already offers online Rx records, so they're a natural partner for this type of Health 4.0 effort (it'd be interesting to see how many consumers are using this service)

This realization of Health 4.0 would have multiple consumers making choices that are essentially self-interested but also have the significant side benefit of increasing the efficiency of the care delivery system as a whole.

MedStar - who would have thought a hulking regional hospital system would herald the next generation of healthcare evolution? It's developments like these that renew my pride in working for a better healthcare system.

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