This week at Healthcare 2.0 I watched Dr. Jay Parkinson and software developer Myca unveil version 2 of the Hellohealth platform, the new social media based medical program for doctor-patient interaction. Hellohealth is a comprehensive, web-based patient care platform that allows patients and doctors to communicate through familiar tools like email or IM. Patients can make an appointment, arrange a phone call, request a script refill, or just ask a question via live video conferencing. Independent doctors using Hellohealth can communicate and share information about common patients. Hellohealth might be thought of as Facebook for health.
I had the opportunity to test drive Hellohealth. Built largely for an adult primary care practice, the user interface is intuitive, clean and well thought out by people who’ve actually been there. Care is a la carte – Doctors who adopt Hellohealth set an hourly rate for their time. As a patient, you talk, text, email, visit or actually see your provider. At the end of the month you get a bill.
Should we be impressed with Hellohealth? Good question. After all, is it news when a patient can actually reach her doctor? It is when reaching your plumber is easier. So Hellohealth is news.
But Hellohealth currently represents a fix only for a young, healthy segment of the population willing to pay for simple health needs. Few chronically ill patients, even among the affluent, can afford medicine-by-the minute for the long haul. We should remember too that for many Americans health care isn’t seen as something we purchase. It’s given to us.
I suspect that Hellohealth will fail to gain the traction necessary to be a gamechanger. Its best hope will lie with widespread adoption in small, focused markets where the benefit of tight communication can be showcased with large employers and third party payers. Short of this, or a sudden cataclysmic shift in the way physicians are reimbursed, I suspect Hellohealth will enjoy more fascination with the media than with the real world.
While I’m bearish on its future, I recognize that I need the concept and simplicity of Hellohealth. But I need it executed in a form somehow based closer to reality.
And as I always tell my patients, I love it when I’m wrong.