Jessica Knox finished medical school feeling jaded by the medical system and wanted a different way to practice medicine. So instead of following most of her peers into the hospital, she joined a telehealth startup.
Knox, who serves as the medical director at Nurx, a telehealth company that focuses on getting women “safe and timely access to birth control,” told MIT Technology Review she was interested in finding a medical career where she could have more control. She spends her day messaging with patients online and sees an opportunity for telehealth to ease some of the existing pressure on the healthcare industry by taking on more basic care needs and allowing clinics to address patients with acute illnesses.
The vast majority of hospital executives have indicated they are willing to invest in telehealth technology, and tech companies are seeing plenty of opportunities to innovate in this space. Payment and reimbursement remain a critical barrier for the industry at large.
But, she adds, the traditional system is still coming to terms with the role that telehealth could play in augmenting patient care.
“When I was coming through medical school and residency, we weren’t trained in telemedicine or how to handle patients via text or via messaging,” she told MIT Technology Review. “I think a lot of doctors at first are kind of like, ‘Whoa, what are you doing?’ and then when they actually start talking to you about it and thinking about it, they start to see that it makes sense.”
Earlier this month a group of six senators reintroduced the Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies (CONNECT) for Health Act of 2017, that would expand access to telehealth for Medicare patients and potentially save the government as much as $1.8 billion.