Many stakeholders have been curious about the possible impact of high-profile retail chains making public forays into virtual healthcare over recent years.

Retailers sought to reassure customers at the American Telemedicine Association conference this week by demonstrating how such maneuvers can help to deliver care in a highly stratified environment.

Marcus Osborne was senior vice president of Walmart Health during a session held on Thursday.

“We know that we as Americans aren’t getting the care we need,” he said.

Osborne claimed that American citizens are often forced by the rising cost of medical care to defer treatment, “until things explode.”

He explained that this problem is systemic and cannot be solved by telehealth.

At the same time, he said, it has potential as part of what he called an “omni-channel solution” – a holistic approach to health that relies on several different modalities, including telehealth.

Deborah DiSanzo, President of Best Buy Health, noted that the coronavirus epidemic played a significant role in moving care away from brick-and mortar facilities.

DiSanzo said that COVID-19 “has placed patients at their home – truly surrounding the care around them.”

She stated that healthcare is becoming more tech-focused and Best Buy will be there.

Osborne repeatedly called telehealth an “enabler” in both direct-to patient offerings and provider-to-provider assistance.

He said that Walmart’s recent acquisition MeMD “gives me an opportunity to directly serve consumers”, but that doctors could also use virtual health care to improve their offerings.

He stated, “It’s going enable providers to up the game and deliver better healthcare.”

He said that companies don’t compete with each other but with inertia surrounding seeking care. “We’re competing with non-consumption,” he said.

“When we think of telehealth, it’s all about recognizing – give people options and give them multiple avenues to engage care in the way they choose, and guess what else they’ll do?” he said. “They’ll get the care.”

Shez Partovi is chief innovation and strategic officer at Philips. He stated that the company’s focus will shift to health technology that “enables an individual use technology to empower themselves to understand and improve their health and well-being.”

“Instead moving our experts’atoms, we want our experts to move their electrons,” he said. In other words, it’s not necessary for top-notch clinicians or nurses to meet patients face-to-face, especially those in greater care.

He said that the combination of beautiful mobile technology and moving electrons is a way for him to shrink the gap.

Kat Jercich has been named senior editor of Healthcare IT News.
Twitter: @kjercich
Healthcare IT News – HIMSS Media publication.

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