Direct-to-consumer (DTC) telehealth is a quickly growing subsector of telehealth. The appeal is that it taps into one of the overall benefits of a telehealth program: easier access.  “Direct to consumer telehealth, dominated by the for-profit private sector, is the most popular form. Direct to consumer telemedicine is a subset of telehealth that shows promise in increasing access to and engagement in medical care. Quality assurance, reimbursement, and regulatory oversight are important factors in assuring appropriate widespread adoption.” (Elliot, Shuh, 2019)

 

Other than easier access, another benefit of this platform is that it eases the sheer volume of patients seen in ERs, doctor’s offices, and hospitals. “Payers and business owners are on board with the idea as well, and are working with telehealth vendors to create on-demand services for their members and employees.” (Wicklund, 2019)

 

As stated above, many private companies offer this service. Tennessee has DTC telehealth access through VisuWell (among others), and Arkansas and Mississippi currently have access to DTC telehealth services (among others) through a CVS Health program, MinuteClinic. Now, Arkansas has more opportunities for better access to care by the launching of HealthNow through the Institute for Digital Health & Innovation at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). Patients can connect via live video and consult with a healthcare professional in a wide variety of areas. Other providers that offer this service usually use a 3rd party, like the ones mentioned above, but UAMS is offering their providers to directly connect with patients. “Although UAMS already has long provided health care across Arkansas through its Regional Campuses and clinical programs, now that presence is around the clock and able to reach anyone in the state who can connect to the internet,” said UAMS Chancellor Cam Patterson,

 

But the low hanging fruit comes with a warning. According to Jay Backstrom, “A lot of people know about it, but they probably don’t know what they should. Don’t lead with it.” And keep in mind, there will be an ebb and a flow to the patient volume. As Peter Antall said: “Utililization takes time.”

 

 

 

 

Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30661123

 

https://mhealthintelligence.com/news/direct-to-consumer-telehealth-requires-careful-planning-preparation

 

https://news.uams.edu/2020/01/21/new-uams-healthnow-offers-24-7-digital-health-live-video-access-to-convenient-care/?fbclid=IwAR31YLRzD-hgFhU1Je1F0JFkYGvbvbRL-ZLzWrW0dwUNZPfNwO7_-Umui0s

 

https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/business/aroundregion/story/2018/jan/14/chattanoogstartbroadens-telehealth-platformwe/461093/

 

https://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com/Content.aspx?bookid=2217&sectionid=187795446