The great thing about this blog and the other things I do is that doctors contact me telling me about their ideas for tech companies that could improve the way that healthcare is delivered. I love hearing from them as I love the fact that there are clinicians out there who want to make a bigger impact and want to take charge of some area in the future as opposed to waiting around then complaining that the government isn’t delivering. Whilst the government should deliver on some things and should be held to account I have seen people go too far with this. Whilst many doctors and nurses work to an acceptable level I’ve seen some doctors and nurses shrug off the outcomes of flat out laziness with the fact that the government isn’t giving enough money to the NHS. Like all things in life, there’s a balance.
However, there are some ideas that I hear again and again and cringe as a result. Telemedicine is one of them. The main reason for this is the Skype infrastructure. You’d have to burn some serious cash if you were going to make your infrastructure comparable to it. Considering this you’d be foolish not to piggyback off Skype using their infrastructure in your business plan. This may seem like a good situation. However, this means that anyone who has an internet connection can compete with you. I know a GP in Harley street. He has his own website and he advertises that he can do Skype consultations for a fee. The electronic prescription service has also made this possible. Why would he pay money for a telemedicine company when he can bypass the middle man for free with little effort? If you want to get into the telemedicine market you’d be better providing a service that empowers clinicians to practice telemedicine, such as a brand development service like doctor Gyles offers for clinicians, competitive medication delivery service or cheap remote monitoring kits. Some people made money at the start of the gold rush but when the market became saturated the people who were still making a good profit were the people selling shovels and pickaxes.
It makes sense for a doctor with a good reputation and brand to start offering a telemedicine service on the side. After all, the telemedicine service is just another way of offering services. It’s the doctors’ brand that gets the customers. However, there may be some space for companies who are completely focused on telemedicine but considering how easily individual doctors can bypass the need for such a company future growth of these companies is questionable.