TELEHEALTH ACCESS MULTIPLIES RAPIDLY DURING OUTBREAK
As the coronavirus spreads, the federal government is loosening telehealth requirements for doctors and “making it easier for them to practice in states other than where they are licensed” (helping alleviate some of the patient stress in more crowded areas). Hospitals are also rapidly adopting telehealth procedures that allow doctors to virtually address coronavirus symptoms and questions to determine if a patient should come in to be tested. Doctors are using telehealth to treat daily/scheduled patients to keep them at home and safe from possible contamination in waiting rooms. It will be interesting to see if the impact of telehealth continues its momentum after the virus outbreak is contained.
ALEXA IS GETTING MORE HEALTHCARE KNOWLEDGE
Amazon is partnering with drug database provider First Databank (FDB) to supply voice assistant Alexa with answers to simple drug-related queries. FDB will provide customized content allowing “consumers to ask about a drug’s effects such as drug interactions, side effects, precautions and the drug’s class.” The project is meant as a simple way for people to quickly get information that can complement advice from their medical and pharmacy teams. An FDB spokesperson says, “Ultimately, we believe that more informed consumers will lead to improved medication adherence, the reduction of adverse drug events and better patient outcomes.”
AMAZON’S NEW WAY TO PAY FOR HEALTH PURCHASES
In other Amazon news, Priority Health, which is Michigan’s second-largest healthcare plan, has partnered with the e-tailer to create a branded Amazon storefront. Members can use their flexible spending account (FSA) or health savings account (HSA) to purchase from approximately 10,000 items including things like vitamins, contact solution, arch supports, bandages, sunscreen and heating pads. Priority Health says it’s offering the shopping option based on internal research that found 85% of its members would rather do their shopping “online with home delivery.”