Telemedicine is a new yet effective way of medical care services delivery. In addition, the demand for telemedicine services has increased significantly under the influence of the coronavirus pandemic, which means that now is the right time to create a telemedicine startup or introduce telemedicine technologies into the work of your hospital.
To make it work, there are several telemedicine business models you may choose from. The right choice will depend on your initial idea, the availability of the necessary resources, and/or readiness to adopt technologies as a part of traditional hospital operational processes. So, let’s review the potentially promising telemedicine business model and decide on the most effective one.
Access to Medical Care Model
This model has shaped the core essence of telemedicine as such. According to this approach, telemedicine services make access to online medicine easier and more open. This model is suitable if you want to equalize access to health services for a wider range of patients.
For example, this model is promising for the Indian market. The level of medical care in this country leaves much to be desired, plus, a huge number of people live in slums in unsanitary conditions and poverty. However, India is also a country with a huge share of smartphone users. That is, with an affordable price for telemedicine services, this model could be promising for this market.
Cost Savings Model
For this model to work, it is necessary to establish partnerships with other hospitals that are also willing to adopt telemedicine solutions with the aim of saving costs.
For example, in conjunction with another hospital, you can create a telemedicine solution that brings together the doctors in your hospital and your partner’s hospital. At the moment when one of the doctors is free from direct work with in-house patients, he can use this time for telemedicine consultations.
Plus, doctors can substitute for each other, and thus avoid both downtime and overpayment. Thus, the joint delivery of telemedicine services optimizes the work of each of the partnered hospitals, and the costs of developing and maintaining this system are divided depending on the actual volume of online consultations provided.
Access to the Market Model
This model is suitable for hospitals looking to expand their market presence with telemedicine services. A significant plus of this model is that you already have a human resource and well-functioning business processes.
All you need is to create the necessary telemedicine ecosystem, that is, at least a mobile application that will allow your doctors to work online. It sounds easier than it is done, but access to new markets is one of the main reasons why modern hospitals are choosing to invest in telemedicine solutions according to this business model.
Institution to Institution
This model involves interaction between two institutions – for example, a hospital and a scientific center conducting medical research. The latter can provide advice to the former in special cases, for example, when it is necessary to obtain advice from a highly specialized specialist, or there are reasons to doubt the diagnosis, and additional confirmation is needed.
Payment for such assistance can be calculated on the basis of the services provided, depending on the duration of the expert consultation, the involvement of the patient himself, and other factors.
Telemedicine as a Part of Medical Insurance Provided by an Employer
Health insurance is not compulsory in all countries, such as the United States. In some countries, medical care is considered free (and then its quality is not always good). In such cases, sometimes employers (especially international companies) pay for health insurance for their employees. Moreover, this is most often a voluntary initiative of the company.
In this case, telemedicine services may become part of the services covered by the insurance policy. For example, under an insurance policy, each employee can get a doctor’s consultation online five times a year.
This is perhaps one of the most profitable business models for telemedicine since you do not need to have human and material medical resources. By creating a telemedicine services marketplace, you enable doctors (hospital-based and private practitioners as well) to meet potential patients using your platform.
This idea is good for mental health medical services. Users may prefer the first online consultation with a psychotherapist to determine if it will be comfortable for them to work with this doctor in person. Plus, this approach allows patients to choose the best doctors regardless of their location, and doctors receive an additional channel for attracting patients.
Each of the models that we have listed has its own specifics and is advantageous or disadvantageous, depending on what resources you have at the start. For example, the telemedicine marketplace model will be beneficial for those who are ready to invest in development but do not have their own medical resources. Of course, before creating your startup according to any of the listed business models, you need to do a thorough analysis of the market and target audience.