( read )

Why soon people no longer need to go to hospital

Topics: Industry insights

100 years ago life expectancy was shorter and access to hospital treatment was limited. Lack of anaesthesia and poor surgical techniques meant that roughly 1 in 10 people died on the operating table. Nowadays we live longer and an average person gets sick 200 times in their lifetime. The quality of healthcare has improved and here in the UK most of us have access to a doctor when we need it.

But the cost of this is increasing exponentially. The world now spends 10% of its GDP on healthcare. The number of outpatient appointments in the UK has doubled in the last 10 years. In 20 years’ time the US will spend its entire tax revenue on delivering care. Clearly, this can’t go on.

Fast forward 100 years, humanity will be challenging mortality and people will live even longer. However, we strongly believe we will no longer all need those expensive hospital visits to get better.

Hospital appointments and paper

Seven years ago Tom, Perran and Rinesh (the founders of DrDoctor) were sitting in the outpatient clinic of Coventry hospital. It was noisy and crowded. There were lots of people around, each taking their turn to walk to the reception desk.

An elderly lady with a white cane walked up to the receptionist. She was with her granddaughter, who had taken a day off work to drive her there. They put a letter on the front desk to be told that it was wrong. Had she not got the update? Her appointment was yesterday. She had missed it. She needs to go back to her GP, and it'll be another long wait.

This was an ophthalmology clinic and sometimes in the case of glaucoma for example, a delay in treatment can be the difference of someone seeing or losing their eyesight.

Technology is the answer

Later that day Tom, Perran and Rinesh decided there had to be a better way. So together they set off on a journey. Initially they thought they were going to build an app to help patients manage their outpatient appointments.

Luckily the first thing they did was they sat down with 1500 people and asked them what they really wanted. What information or tools would help them manage their hospital appointments better. Turns out all people wanted to know was:

  • Where they were going
  • Why they were going there
  • What would happen when they got there

So instead of an app the founders decided to build something simple, using text messages, which made an immediate impact on people's lives, because as Thomas Jefferson said

“Just because something doesn't do what you planned it to do, it doesn't mean it's useless.”

Isn’t it incredible that in 2019 you can travel, shop, entertain, and even date by using your mobile phone, but yet it's still really hard to manage simple things in your healthcare using technology?

The rhetoric has changed; people believe in the power of technology. People want to use technology to manage their healthcare.

Technology is no longer the problem.

Community is key 

In addition to the right technology, we need a community of people to come together in order to tackle the big problems. For example, at DrDoctor our vision is to build the future of outpatients, where people are only seen when they need it, and the sickest get seen first. But we can’t do that on our own.

Community is when groups of experts come together to solve difficult problems to find a better way of doing things. Because people are living longer, demands on health systems globally are increasing and the cost of healthcare is rising.

So remember that elderly lady from Coventry hospital?

Imagine if she could have been guided through the process. If her pre-clinic checks could have been done from the comfort of her front room. If there were a community of Doctors and likeminded people who she could communicate with remotely. Her granddaughter could have saved a day off work, or they could spend the time together at home, rather than in an outpatient waiting room. If the lady have been seen based on need, not time, and we’d have used data to prioritise her visit.

Insurgency is the magic ingredient

However, technology and community alone are not enough to create change- we also need insurgency.

We think insurgency is the sense of pushing yourself to deliver something more. It’s a sense of going above and beyond. It’s the sense of putting your neck on the line, putting your reputation out there to do something bigger, for the sake of others to create a better world. To create a world where people can have their healthcare managed remotely without having to go to the hospital.

Insurgency is quitting your job to start your own business out of frustration, and insurgency is Nye Bevan starting the NHS in 1948, providing free care at the point of need for everyone!

The future is now

Technology can facilitate insurgent communities of likeminded people to come together to act as change agents. Communities that focus on people and are based on value.

Communities like you.

As healthcare communities around the world continue to adopt this new way of receiving healthcare without physically going to the hospital, we’ll see a health system that can look after more people, more sustainably.

Healthcare will be transformed globally to a more caring, efficient, affordable institution that can help all of us.

Let’s all come together to rewrite the relationship between people and hospitals.