Over the past couple weeks, one question has dominated my world:
Can the current telemedicine ecosystem continue to handle the influx of patients we’re seeing?
Let me give you my two cents, though forewarning, I don’t mince my words.
The ecosystem is fine.
The problem is defining the ecosystem as only the big 4 “telemedicine” networks. It’s like saying AOL defines the Internet “ecosystem.” The reality is that the telemedicine companies have struggled to handle even a modest 50% increase in volume. This is because they were built and designed for a totally different world, just like AOL was great when you used a modem to surf the world wide web.
We don’t live in an AOL world anymore. COVID-19 volume for traditional telemedicine networks has been like introducing HD videos to dial-up platforms. The wait times and infrastructure have struggled under the load. This part of the ecosystem has definitely been strained.
Expanding the ecosystem definition to include technology-assisted virtual care companies paints an entirely different picture. These companies, like Zipnosis, ARE scaling and WILL provide sustained value. We were built to handle massive volumes because we assumed virtual care was simply becoming healthcare.
To understand the main difference between the old school dial-up telemedicine services and Zipnosis’ model, we need to look at two key components: technology that drives efficiency (not just access) AND an elastic supply of providers.
Let’s start with elastic supply. This is a 10-dollar economist term for the ability to add and remove providers without much effort. A great example of elastic supply is cloud-computing. If a website hosted in the cloud gets a huge spike in demand quickly, the cloud-computer infrastructure absorbs it automatically, adding disk space, processing power, etc. It happens instantaneously. Inelastic computing power is when that same spike happens and I have to rush out to Best Buy and purchase new computers, RAM, etc., install/configure.
With that in mind, here’s how our elastic supply of providers has played out the past few weeks:
- We trained 1427 new providers on the Zipnosis platform (training a new provider takes less than an hour).
- By having an elastic supply of providers on our platform across all our customers, our network can now handle 1.1 million visits PER WEEK.
On the efficiency front, our average work time for all COVID-19 visits last month was 4 min 33 seconds. The average telemedicine visit is over 18 minutes.
The results speak for themselves. Through this COVID-19 pandemic, the telemedicine companies suffered through 22 HOUR wait times.
Zipnosis’ average wait time? 10 minutes.
As you can see, the problem isn’t the ecosystem—the problem is defining “telemedicine” as only a couple of old-school service providers. While these telemedicine companies work to scale and integrate technology-assisted virtual care, companies like Zipnosis will continue to digitize the new normal.
Because when you dial a doctor you get a busy tone.