Can innovation in healthcare do more harm than good?

Sure, here’s how. Say there’s a new thing called “video visit for 10 minutes with a random doctor.” A 10-minute random doctor conversation (without the ability to follow-up or order tests to confirm suspicions) is, by design, a tool to solve an extremely simple problem, like pink eye. This innovation depends on users understanding how and why they can use the tool. If the user believes this tool is far more capable than it is, they’ll pay for a tool that can’t help them. And then they’ll pay again for the more traditional tool (like an urgent care visit) that can finally help them. The “innovative tool” is just part of the equation. By far, the most important part of an innovation is educating people how to use the tool. Unfortunately, many of these video visit companies market to users “talk with a doctor now” vs. “talk with a doctor for super simple things like pink eye now.” They make money from users misunderstanding and misusing the service and can ultimately increase the cost of care when not used appropriately. Talking with a doctor for 10 minutes via video is kinda cool, but it’s a rock to use in a pinch, not a Swiss Army knife.