When you look at the best healthcare systems in the world -- that is, the ones that provide the best care and are the most efficient -- you will find a high number of primary care doctors. The United States, on the other hand, is the land of the specialists, and sub-specialists.
Not only does this disproportion between primary care doctors and specialists in the U.S. bog down the whole healthcare system, we have created a system of incentives where it pays more to specialize. Meanwhile, the family physicians, gynecologists and general practitioners who represent the front lines of our health care system are struggling to remain financially viable.
Primary care doctors are getting less money through reimbursements each year. So how do they raise revenue? They try to see more patients. In other words, these doctors are like "hamsters on a treadmill," says Stephen Armstrong, Vice President of Marketing for Hello Health, a secure social network platform that allows doctors to access electronic records and communicate with their patients.
There are obvious benefits to patients who use this service, which is intended to compliment traditional primary care practices. After all, there has been a great mindset change in the health care industry. "Patients are customers," says Armstrong. "They have options, and doctors need to have their hand in the game in a more assertive way."
While the federal government incentivizes doctors to invest in building a system to manage electronic records for their patients, it is still a significant investment. Furthermore, few have the time or money to invest in determining the right technology platform. After all, many doctors are great at caring for patients, but might not be the best businessmen. That's where Hello Health steps in, offering itself as a business advisor to independent doctors.
Armstrong says his company has found a niche in the market that no one else is providing. How are other companies using technology to empower us, rather than make us vulnerable? That is the subject of Big Think's series Humanizing Technology. Please see what other companies are doing in the health care industry and others here.
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