What would happen if we blew up the concept of the doctor office visit?

Doctors get paid exclusively for office visits. So, they keep happening, because money. But what would happen if the primary means of communicating with your doctor and care team was online and a message could be sent at any time of any day and you could expect a response within 12 minutes? Or, if needed, you could pick up the phone or jump on a video chat when you had an urgent issue or something needed to be hammered out with a good old-fashioned conversation.

Ultimately, what if office visits were only used as a tool of last resort?

Seventy percent of PCP and urgent care visits would be unnecessary. And 80% of visits would be unnecessary if your online PCP could loop in specialists into the conversation.

Here’s what this world would look like:

No “I just spent 2 weeks waiting for this appointment, 1 hour in the waiting room, and $150 just to get referred to someone else?”

No “I’m sick and I have to shlep to the doctor’s office instead of just staying in bed?”

No “I just got a bill with 12 line items for $1,200 and I was only there for 12 minutes.”

No “I need to go to the epicenter of sickness and wait amongst other sick people in a germy waiting room?”

No “what do you mean you can’t stitch me up here in urgent care and I now have to go to the ER and I now owe you how much for telling me this?”

No “this rash just got worse…why can’t I just send my doctor a photo and ask if this is normal or not?”

No “is this a thing and is it important enough to spend time and money on doing anything about it anytime soon?”

No “Google says my headache is a tumor…I’m scared out of my mind and my appointment is a week away.”

No “everytime I visit my PCP, I see some other doctor or maybe even a nurse practitioner.”

No “Blah! I totally forgot to ask her that one question and that was the main reason I made the appointment!”

No “they only spent 7 minutes with me.”

No “the doctor barely even looked at me…they were looking at their computer the whole time.”

No “that doctor interrupted me every 5 seconds and I couldn’t even explain how I was actually feeling.”

No “it’s super embarrassing having to look someone in the eyes and explain what’s happening down there.”

No “Blah! I was so nerve-wracked and just trying to process things that I totally forgot almost everything the doctor said.”

No “it’s cold and why am I naked under this gown and she didn’t even examine me?”

No “I spent 2 hours traveling back and forth to the office. I can think of plenty of other better things to do than sit in traffic.”

No “If I’m not working, I’m not getting paid and you want me to take an afternoon of work just to go to the doctor?”

No “Gee, that’s a fancy old-school clipboard, Doc. Got any Sports Illustrated from last year too?”

No “This is the third time I’ve been asked by three different people if I have a fever.”

A primarily online relationship with your doctor is a fundamentally new shift in how healthcare works. It’s the future because it’s far more effective at solving problems— it’s far more cost-effective, and it enables deeper, more trusting relationships with your doctors and care team. Because accessibility, empathy, helpfulness, and close, effective communication, especially in times of need, is the foundation of all relationships.