Measles Is Back, And What’s New with Telemedicine — May Healthcare Hot Takes

Healthcare Hot Takes is Luma Health’s monthly rundown of healthcare innovations happening right now. Check out what the industry is thinking, reading, doing. This month’s topics are the measles outbreak and telemedicine.

Story #1: The Measles Outbreak Is Back and In a Scary Way.

All but eliminated in 2000, the highly contagious measles has made a recent resurgence. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the disease, which is caused by the rubeloa virus, is at its highest since 1994. The number of individual cases this year in the U.S. alone is 704–those individuals live across 22 different states.

FYI: Click here to see where the measles outbreak has impacted the U.S. recently.

Most cases of measles introduced in the States have stemmed from outbreaks in countries like Israel, Ukraine, and the Philippines. Travelers from those countries have unknowingly brought it back to the U.S. This has led to increased cases of contraction by those most susceptible: the unvaccinated and very young infants.

Some health systems are taking action on this public health issue. NYU Langone Health has built specific alerts into its Epic system to notify medical providers of patients in an outbreak area based on their zip codes. In addition, they can identify those patients that have been unvaccinated and send out messages to them reminding them to get their MMR vaccine. Sutter Health is screening patients for relevant measles symptoms and triaging care and taking safety precautions as necessary.

Read more about the 2019 measles outbreak here.

Luma’s Hot Take: With something as contagious as measles, it’s especially important to remind people to get their vaccines and to notify patients in certain areas of the nation that could be susceptible. At Luma Health, we make this easy through our broadcast messaging. Sending timely alerts, preventive care reminders, and important relief information through text has shown to have an impact on preventing future health complications or crises.

Watch our on-demand webinar to learn more about how to leverage reimbursable HIPAA-compliant virtual visits to deliver care and minimize appointment backlogs and cancellations.

Story #2: Telemedicine and Walk-In Clinics are Changing the Role of the Family Physician.

Virtual visits and walk-in clinics are altering the landscape of primary care, specifically that of the general family doctor. Many patients are no longer choosing the familiarity and relationship of their primary care provider, but are instead choosing convenience and on-demand healthcare. A survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation last year shows that nearly 25% of U.S. adults don’t have a regular primary care provider. That number jumps to 45% when looking at those under the age of 30.

Most health experts believe that people still need a general doctor who is looking out for their overall health and wellbeing. Ideally, this would be someone who is familiar with that patient’s entire medical history. Someone who is trained to spot symptoms in advance, not simply address them as they appear. These family physicians have real relationships with their patients and are familiar with lifestyle characteristics, health goals, health history, and more.

Recent declines in primary care provider relationships started when CVS Pharmacy and Walmart began providing basic internal medicine services like flu shots and general check-ups in their store locations. Now, CVS and Walmart have over 1,500 retail clinic locations nationwide. Even employers are adding worksite clinics to conveniently address simple healthcare issues on-site.

Finally, there’s the surge in telehealth. Virtual visits are convenient and affordable for providers and patients alike. Between 2007-2016, telehealth grew by 643%. As patients are offered more opportunities to connect with providers on-demand, their likelihood of maintaining an ongoing relationship with a primary care doctor declines.

Luma’s Hot Take: It’s clear that the healthcare landscape is changing as is the role of the family doctor. As patients exercise their power as consumers of  healthcare, they are choosing to forego a general primary care provider and instead access more convenient care. With Luma Health, care teams and providers can communicate with the patient at various touch points in their care journey. This can help family medicine providers maintain ongoing relationships with patients, providing them the convenience they seek without forgoing that crucial patient-provider relationship.

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