3 Ways Artificial Intelligence is Changing Healthcare

As the world adjusts to an inefficient and overpriced healthcare system coupled with an unstable economy, the healthcare industry is shifting from fee-for-service and reactive care. Providers seek to stay ahead of chronic diseases, prevent costly acute events, and mitigate the deterioration of patients’ health in the most effective ways. Unfortunately, shortages of qualified personnel, as well as skyrocketing costs, sometimes make this difficult. Artificial intelligence (AI) is being used to bridge the gap between the limitations of medical providers and the patients’ needs. AI is also helping physicians be proactive and predictive. This technology is changing the landscape of healthcare by assisting doctors in diagnosing patients faster, monitoring patients’ health through wearable devices, and preventing the spread of infectious diseases.

Diagnosing Patients Faster

Artificial intelligence is easing the administrative workload by creating better interfaces between doctors and patient data, but it also helps providers diagnose patients faster. A significant trend in medicine is using AI in medical diagnosis to detect cancer. A recent study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute reported that the AI system has a breast cancer detection accuracy comparable to an average breast radiologist.

Google says its latest research proves that a neural network can be trained to detect lung cancer symptoms earlier and faster than trained radiologists. AI-driven software can also accurately identify indicators of certain diseases in medical images such as MRIs, X-rays, and CT scans.

Having this technology at their disposal can allow doctors to diagnose and make treatment recommendations faster and more accurately. This ability fosters a better patient experience and, hopefully, a better relationship with their provider.

Monitoring Health Through Wearable Devices

From smartphone apps to Fitbits, several wearable devices enable people to track vital health data such as heart rate and physical activity. AI is being used to improve people’s health and well-being by helping them monitor weight goals and track fitness levels.

It also has particularly essential applications for the elderly population. Thirty to 60 percent of older adults fall each year, with 10 to 20 percent of those falls leading to injury, hospitalization, or death. Wearable fall detection devices can help the elderly receive the proper care in the event of a fall. These devices can be lifesaving if someone is unable to call for help.

As technology continues to evolve, and patients choose to share their health data with doctors, more wearable technology applications will be designed to prevent diseases and maintain health.

Preventing the Spread of Infectious Disease

Since the first case of COVID-19 was recorded in Wuhan, China, epidemiologists have used a significant component of AI, machine learning, to track and prevent the spread. This technology has not only helped them understand more about the virus but also saved lives.

Machine learning is when a computer takes massive amounts of data and learns to detect patterns. This intelligence enables predictive analytics –the ability to predict future outcomes as well as reveal other insights about the data.

One such example is how organizations might be able to predict the number of deaths from COVID-19 for a specific gender over the age of 60. Countries worldwide used these predictive models to implement shelter-in-place and other strategies to prevent the spread of the virus.

For example, during the COVID-19 crisis, the city of Wuhan implemented AI to detect people with fever in large crowds with smart glasses worn by security guards. Bus and train stations also employed surveillance technology to check large groups of people without making contact. Although controversial, officials were able to safely and quickly identify people at risk of spreading the disease, which they wouldn’t have been able to do without using this form of technology.

As we move forward, innovators predict that current AI solutions in medical diagnosis, treatment recommendation, and infectious disease control will improve, and its applications in the field of medicine will continue to advance for years to come.

Prevention is the Best Strategy for Chronic Disease

According to the CDC, 60 percent of Americans suffer from at least one chronic disease like heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and diabetes. These and other chronic conditions lead causes of death and disability in America, and they are also a leading driver of health care costs—to the tune of $3.5 trillion per year. It’s even more sobering to realize chronic diseases are responsible for 70 percent of deaths in the U.S., killing more than 1.7 million Americans annually. When looking at the impact of chronic conditions, the proactive prevention of these diseases is truly the best strategy.

What is a Chronic Disease?

Chronic disease is a physical or mental health condition that lasts more than one year and causes functional restrictions or requires ongoing monitoring or treatment. Some of the more common conditions include:

  • Anxiety
  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Blood Pressure
  • Fibromyalgia
  • GERD
  • Gout
  • Hypertension
  • Thyroid
  • CHF
  • COPD
  • Depression
  • Diabetes

Being Proactive is Easier Than You Think

Stress, smoking, lack of physical activity, alcohol, and poor diet are significant contributors to the leading chronic diseases. Being proactive and screening for diseases before they start is one of the best ways to prevent chronic conditions. However, many people fail to establish a relationship with a primary care physician because they think they can’t afford it.

With mounting pressure from insurance companies to limit the time they spend with patients, many primary care providers also lack time to focus on proactive prevention and treatment options with patients. Fortunately, the direct primary care (DPC) model has grown in popularity recently. DPC shatters various healthcare barriers, including expenses that may have prohibited patients from getting primary care in the past. Also, DPC has given physicians the freedom to put patients first again.

Traditional models of health care address symptoms of a disease after it has escalated, but to prevent chronic diseases, we need a more comprehensive approach. This approach is where practical and consistent primary care comes in. By building an ongoing relationship with patients and their families, practitioners in a DPC environment can offer tailor-made solutions.

Primary Care is the Cornerstone

DPC providers have the time and resources to inform patients about their chronic disease risk best and improve their overall health. The idea of healthcare was always for doctors and patients to work together to improve health outcomes by being proactive rather than reactive.

Direct Primary Care offers members access to unlimited primary care visits for a low monthly fee. There are no insurance deductibles or expensive copays to meet. When a patient can spend as many sessions as necessary with their doctor, they can get to the root causes of chronic diseases without going in circles and racking up medical bills they can’t afford.

One of the many functions of primary care is to educate people on underlying lifestyle risk factors as well as create personalized prevention plans. Understanding a patient’s medical history, family history, and lifestyle helps doctors recommend resources, lifestyle changes, and necessary medication to mitigate or control symptoms.

Prevention is Best 

Exercising, proper nutrition, drinking less, and quitting smoking can provide health benefits and a greater sense of well-being. But establishing an ongoing relationship with a primary care provider is even more critical when it comes to preventing and managing chronic disease.

For more information on how DPC can help your clients manage and prevent chronic disease effectively and affordably, contact Healthcare2U.

Healthcare2U Launches Redesigned Website to Better Support Brokers, Employers and Members

Healthcare2U is excited to launch a redesigned website for benefits brokers, employers, and members who want to learn more about our barrier-breaking and cost-effective DPC solutions. In addition to a fresh new look, the site offers practical information, educational, and marketing materials along with a rich library of blog content and newsletters.

As an innovator in healthcare, we understand the importance of making information regarding our services and trends easily accessible for our current and prospective partners. We endeavor to provide our brokers and members with the most accurate, up-to-date information, and share our knowledge and expertise in direct primary care (DPC).

We Set Our Brokers Up for Success

Our redesigned website updated our broker portal! Brokers interested in effectively selling Healthcare2U’s DPC will find that product marketing materials and educational materials are organized more effectively. We have also separated the DPCplus collateral by product, so there is less confusion on product build and implementation.

NewPortal

The redesigned site is much easier to navigate and find the specific product information you need. It is a place for sharing expertise and getting personalized support from Healthcare2U because when you succeed, we succeed. Not only does the Partner Portal allow for adds and terms to be managed, but brokers can now submit requests to create customized plan designs with our Account Management team. You will get access to our product marketing expertise to get results faster and more consistently.

Our Partner Portal contains everything you will need to be successful with Healthcare2U products. And as always, if you have a special request, you can always email Broker Support with just a click.

Employers and Members Can See How DPC Pertains to Them

In addition to tools provided for brokers, employers seeking more information about DPC can now read more on how Healthcare2U reduces expenses for everyone. Our redesigned website is packed with information on cost-containment strategies and detailed information on each component of DPC:

  • Patient Navigation
  • Unlimited In-Office Doctor Access
  • Unlimited Urgent Care
  • Preventative Care
  • Unlimited Chronic Care
  • Unlimited Virtual DPC

Members seeking care for themselves or their families can easily find testimonials, membership benefits, and contact information. Connecting with our patient advocates has never been easier. Whether members want to schedule an appointment with a clinic in their area or want answers to frequently asked questions, they can quickly find everything they need on the new site.

Stay Connected and Well Informed

Among the new features, the site contains integrated social media buttons for Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn to foster better communication with partners and a stronger sense of community. We are always updating our content with helpful information, thought leadership, company announcements, and client successes in the Blog, Press Releases, and Broker Material sections. You can also sign up for The Primary – Healthcare2U’s monthly newsletter.

 

Feel free to check out the new healthc2u.com. And if you have any questions about the benefits of direct primary care, email contact@healthc2u.com

 

Direct Primary Care Protects Employers’ Bottom Lines

Before the pandemic, healthcare spending was expected to rise by 42 percent between 2019 and 2028. According to a recent survey by the National Business Group on Health (NBGH)¹, large U.S. employers predicted their healthcare costs for 2020 would rise by a median of 6 percent without any cost management adjustments, and by 5 percent if cost management strategies were implemented.

If this year has taught us nothing, it is that things can escalate beyond your control very quickly. It’s already evident the costs of coronavirus testing and COVID-19 treatment will be high, reaching tens, if not hundreds, of billions of dollars. However, the estimates are incredibly varied because we are still in the midst of the outbreak.

Willis Towers Watson’s Best Practices in Health Care Employer Survey estimates that due to COVID-19 testing and treatment, health insurance premiums could increase as much as 7 percent on top of the 5 percent increase employers previously projected for 2021. That is a 12 percent jump expected for employers if no cost containment initiatives are put in place.

Small Employers Take Big Hits

Health plan premiums and annual cost increases are often higher for small and mid-sized employers that lack the bargaining power of giant corporations. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, small businesses pay an average of 8 percent to 18 percent more than large companies for the same health insurance plans. It’s also not unusual for insurance companies to charge different premiums to small employers based on industry or the employer’s prior health claims.

With so much at stake for small business owners and the current economic climate, it has become increasingly crucial for benefits brokers to build benefits plans that can protect the bottom lines of employers of all sizes. One such strategy is Direct Primary Care (DPC).

How DPC Can Help

Direct Primary Care protects employers’ health plans by diverting claims for acute care, chronic disease management, and urgent care away from their health plans. Milliman, Inc. recently published a study called “Direct Primary Care: Evaluating a New Model of Delivery and Financing.” They found that DPC members visited emergency rooms 40 percent less over the course of two years. They also reported that DPC members were admitted to the hospital 26 percent less over that same two-year period.

The report estimated that direct primary care saved the employers in their study about 5 percent of total non-administrative plan costs. For a small business, savings like this can mean the difference between keeping the doors open or having to shutter them or lay off employees.

Adding direct primary care to health plans does not detract from other plan offerings—it enhances them. DPC is also straightforward to implement. With DPC providers like Healthcare2U, employers can maintain a healthier workforce with flexible enrollment options, excellent customer support, and a tailor-made benefits platform that works with existing carriers.

It is Time for Change

Increases to the cost of employer-sponsored health insurance premiums continue to outpace the inflation rate and employee wages. Between 2018 and 2019, inflation increased by 2 percent, and workers’ wages increased less than 4 percent, while the average individual premium increased by 4 percent, and the average family premium increased by 5 percent.

Large and small businesses know that if they do not make changes to their healthcare plans in the years ahead, their costs will continue to rise at an unsustainable rate. To keep their workforces healthy, safe, and able to work through these turbulent times, we cannot expect more from an already broken healthcare system. We can only ask for a change.

This time is pivotal for benefits brokers to present innovative solutions that reduce the projected health plan increases. To learn more about how direct primary care can make health plans more affordable, contact Healthcare2U. No matter the size of your client’s employee population, we have solutions that deliver actual cost savings.

 

¹ 2020 Large Employers’ Health Care Strategy and Plan Design Survey by the nonprofit National Business Group on Health (NBGH)

Doctors Love Direct Primary Care

The rising prevalence of burnout among physicians has raised questions on how it affects healthcare access, the quality of care, and patient safety. Doctors experiencing burnout or depression are more likely to leave a practice, which interrupts patients’ access to and continuity of care. In addition to taking a toll on the mental health of the practitioner, exhaustion can also threaten patient safety and lead to weak interactions with patients due to impaired attention, memory, and executive function. The causes of burnout include patient panels that are too large, administrative overload, and constraints from insurance companies. All these reasons are why doctors love direct primary care (DPC) and are turning away from the fee-for-service world.

Doctors Are Feeling the Pressure

It’s well known that insurance providers pressure doctors to limit their appointment times with patients. Over 50 percent of physicians in a recent study said they experience time pressures when conducting physical examinations. Nearly 33 percent felt they needed at least 50 percent more time than was allotted for this task. An additional 25 percent reported needing at least 50 percent more time for follow-up appointments.

High-pressure working conditions with little control of work pace directly correlate with physicians’ feelings of dissatisfaction, stress, and desire to leave the practice in some cases. In recent years, many have reclaimed the joy of practicing medicine by returning to the basics through Direct primary care (DPC). DPC has emerged as a life-changing alternative for three reasons. It allows physicians to eliminate or minimize interactions with insurance companies, it mitigates administrative hassles and restores the relationship between doctors and patients.

Freedom from Paperwork

While some doctors adopt a hybrid DPC model where they see some insured patients and some direct primary care members, some opt for a DPC-only practice. Being liberated from all the time and money spent filing claims and doing other administrative tasks related to working with insurance companies is an attractive perk for many.

One study found that for every hour a doctor spent with patients, he spent an additional two hours filling out paperwork for insurance companies. Some liken having doctors waste two-thirds of their time to having LeBron James spend most of his time selling game tickets instead of playing.

When there are no insurance providers involved, there’s no billing involved. This practice means less money spent on salaries for administrative staff. The freedom to choose whether to see patients with insurance provides greater peace of mind for some.

Making Patients the Priority 

By charging an affordable monthly fee for direct primary care membership, a physician can know what profits he’s going to make for a certain number of patients each month. This stability in revenue allows him to keep a manageable panel of patients. By eliminating the guesswork of how to remain profitable with an overwhelming number of patients (often in the thousands), doctors can save themselves from overworking to keep their business afloat.

And when he opts out of fee-for-service appointments, there are no limits to the time he can spend with patients. This factor is one of the main reasons physicians love direct primary care. It enables them to make patients the priority again. Many physicians lament going into medicine because they wanted to help people only to find their hands tied by bureaucracy.

 

The beauty of DPC is that it places control of the practice back into the doctor’s hands. Without time constraints, the physician can take the time necessary to dissect a patient’s medical history and find underlying causes of illness that may have been missed previously. DPC allows them to build a proper foundation and a long-term relationship with patients who feel like they’re finally seen and heard.