Last year, Amazon cast a shadow over the healthcare industry after obtaining wholesale pharmacy licenses in a dozen states. In addition to the purchase of Whole Foods and its expanded distribution system, experts agree that Amazon is setting up to do its part to address one of the most significant challenges facing healthcare providers today: last-mile delivery.
The last mile is the point between an organization’s transportation hub or location to the customer’s home. By cutting down on last mile challenges, healthcare organizations can cut down the distance between themselves and their customers, facilitating faster, more effective and convenient patient care.
In response to Amazon rumors, other organizations were quick to pivot last year. Large retail pharmacy chains like CVS and Walgreens have rolled out their own initiatives to head off the potential threat posed by Amazon. Walgreens has partnered with FedEx to put shipping services into its store locations, while CVS purchase of Aetna may improve delivery of medications.
However, the biggest leaps and bounds are being made by healthcare organizations that don’t worry about the last mile. Instead, they’re circumventing it altogether by adopting telehealth solutions for their patients. According to one study produced by Hospitals and Health Networks late last year, in fact, telehealth is set to see a significant surge in 2018. According to the report, the number of U.S. health systems with consumer-service telehealth programs this year is on pace to double those from just two years ago.
Let’s take a closer look at how telehealth services stack up as a viable alternative to doubling down on convoluted last-mile solutions.
Offloading inventory management:
Healthcare organizations taking last mile delivery into their own hands will have to make significant operational changes to keep up with shipping giants and the titans of Silicon Valley in coming years. By working with a telehealth services provider, healthcare organizations will be able to offload inventory management and shipping considerations to ensure more efficient transportation of vital medical supplies so they can stay focused on providing quality care.
Seamless communication between all parties:
It’s one thing to get a patient a prescription on the same day they asked for it. But what if they have a question or problem with the delivery? They’d still have to go through the tired process of speaking to a customer service representative, or their team of doctors, administrators or other individual with responsibility for their care. Telehealth services provide patients with an integrated platform to connect and communicate with all members of their medical support team anytime.
Ultimately, improvements to last mile delivery are all about fulfilling the responsibility of improving customer experience. But in reality, organizations that work to own the last mile are still a mile behind telehealth services providers that have already used technology to pipe directly into their patients’ homes. This takes all the pressure off the patient, facilitating a better experience and, hopefully, better outcomes.
To learn more about how you can integrate telehealth solutions into your healthcare organization in 2018, click here.