Over the last 18 months, we have witnessed the birth of mobile medicine made possible by the growing on-demand economy. Companies are setting up new technology-based enterprises taking advantage of internet mobility to connect doctors with patients using smartphones as the intermediary. Now the doctors have competition. Nurse practitioners are also climbing aboard the on-demand train with technology-based services of their own.
One example is a Minnesota company known as RetraceHealth. The company offers pay-as-you-go medical services that connect patients with providers through mobile apps and in-person house and office calls. The business is successful enough that investors contributed $1 million back in January and another $6.5 million in recent weeks. What sets RetraceHealth apart from the competition is that it only uses nurse practitioners to provide care.
Perfect Primary Care Model
The appeal of pay-as-you-go healthcare in a mobile world should be obvious. Anyone in their 30s or younger has been raised on technology since their earliest years while technology still plays an important role for people in their 40s, 50s and 60s. Our culture is now more likely than ever to use technology to do things more efficiently and cost-effectively; why would we not apply technology to healthcare?
It can certainly be difficult to embrace the idea of visiting with a nurse practitioner using a smartphone if you have been making regular visits to the doctor’s office for decades. But even as older Americans are living longer and demanding more by way of healthcare services, it is the younger generation that is driving the transition to mobile, on-demand, pay-as-you-go medicine. They are the ones creating the primary care model of the future.
For the record, primary care is the perfect venue for establishing mobile healthcare. It is, by its nature, care that is not dealing with life-threatening or critical illnesses requiring direct, in-person intervention. This makes it perfect for developing the technology that will eventually become as commonplace as the old doctor’s office of the past. And once the technology is perfected, it can be expanded to include other areas of healthcare delivery.
Good for Nurse Practitioners
Hopefully, nurse practitioners around the country will get on board with the on-demand economy and pay-as-you-go primary care. This model could be the single most important and influential factor in expanding the scope of care that all 50 states extend to nurse practitioners. This platform offers a golden opportunity for these fully-trained medical professionals to prove beyond all doubt that they are more than capable of providing top-notch primary care.
Because mobile healthcare is still so new, nurse practitioners have an opportunity to be major players in determining how platforms are developed. They have the chance to provide much of the feedback necessary for developers to create platforms and apps that meet the needs of both patients and their providers. In short, nurse practitioners do not have to merely go along for the ride. Their participation in the early stages of this emerging model will help define what it looks like decades down the road.
As for patients, more and more of them are comfortable with the idea of mobile medicine every day. They see mobile healthcare as just another logical progression in the on-demand economy. And with patient satisfaction now being intrinsically linked to positive outcomes, developing an effective mobile platform could be key to dramatically increasing satisfaction in the years to come.
Mobile medicine is here to stay. Now that the concept is expanding to include nurse practitioners offering primary care, we could be on the verge of a whole new way of dispensing routine, day-to-day medicine.