How Digital Access To Healthcare Is Becoming A Reality

By Karim Babay, CEO, HealthSapiens.

Karim Babay
Karim Babay

One of the primary problems existing in healthcare is the many barriers to access and delivery of care and treatment. Access to healthcare is centralized to a limited number of intermediary players in a way that is costly, non-transparent, and inefficient. It forces all of us to settle on whatever is given based on our locale and socioeconomic status, without having any real voice.

Access to care impacts patient’s physical, social, and mental well-being, as well as their overall quality of life. According to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, people with a reliable source of care should have better health outcomes, fewer disparities, and lower costs. Yet according to the National Association of Community Health Centers, approximately 62 million individuals in the United States have limited or no access to primary care physicians as a result of shortages. This number is widely expected to increase over the next several years as our population grows older.

With an absence of convenient access to primary care physicians, patients turn to alternatives like emergency rooms, urgent care clinics, or choose to not seek care at all. All three options are more costly to the healthcare system than providing access to appropriate physicians.

In America, there is one medical doctor for every 434 people. It is important to note that physicians are not dispersed evenly throughout the country. Cuba, a country that has heavily emphasized medicine, has about six doctors for every 1,000 citizens. Conversely, in much of developing Africa, there is less than one healthcare practitioner (not necessarily a doctor) for every 1,000 people. India has fewer than one doctor for each 1,000 person.

Even in communities where healthcare exists, there are financial barriers to accessing care. Countries requiring but not providing health insurance or out-of-pocket payment put citizens at risk of delaying or forgoing treatment, hoping their ailments will go away. This increases costs overall as these same citizens are often treated in emergency rooms, and outcomes diminish because preventative treatment is all but forgotten.

Current Solutions

To solve this problem, we must create a system that is both affordable and globally accessible. Online portals can provide an opportunity for patients to access physicians beyond the sphere of their physical location. Since overhead costs are minimal for physicians to participate, prices per visit can decrease. Global market competitiveness will also drives prices down.

Future Solutions

Gains can still be made, as hundreds of thousands of patients are still without proper access. A common currency can aid the process of cross-border payments, encouraging physicians to provide services more globally. Adding in-person physician visits existing system will increase accessibility for patients who lack traditional health insurance, or for those who are able to travel to seek care at more reasonable prices. Technology like a blockchain will make care seamless no matter what care provider you visit. Adding online pharmacies to the platform can help get medicine to those who need it. Overall transparency will lower costs and promote better outcomes.

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