The Week in Disruption goes beyond the headlines to uncover the significance of emerging trends in healthcare and beyond.
Telemedicine heads to the emergency room
While rural healthcare has long relied on telemedicine to serve far-flung patients or counter physician shortages, the provision of emergency care has typically remained in-house. But at least one major “virtual ER” operator is finding success providing rural hospitals with emergency physicians from the other end of a video screen.
Avera eCare, a virtual ER operating out of a suburban industrial park in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, is “rural America’s busiest emergency room,” with more than 15,000 cases a year, the Washington Post reports. The company now provides remote emergency care for 179 hospitals in 30 states. Avera eCare’s 15 physicians and 30 nurses work out of cubicles equipped with remote-control operated cameras, helping clinicians at faraway hospitals manage heart attacks, traumatic injuries, and other emergencies.
The business case is compelling: The number of rural ER patients has grown by 60 percent in the last decade, while the number of physicians and hospitals in rural areas has declined by up to 15 percent, the Post reports. And with many critical access hospitals unable to find or retain on-site physicians, nurses and physician assistants left in charge of patients now push a red button connecting to Avera eCare for their most challenging cases.
Walgreens joins Houston’s chronic care clinic race
In February, CVS Health opened its first HealthHUB stores in Houston, signaling a larger effort to remake its retail stores into one-stop-shopping for people with chronic conditions. The early signs are promising: CVS plans to have 50 HealthHUBs up and running this year and is already pointing to increased volumes for prescriptions and other products at the initial sites.
Not to be outdone, Walgreens recently opened Village Medical at Walgreens, a standalone primary care clinic located next to a Houston Walgreens, with plans to open five clinics in the area by the end of the year. The clinics, which will be staffed by primary care physicians, nurses, and other clinicians, are also expected to focus on chronic care management. Walgreens recently closed 160 in-store clinics, in what was framed as a shift away from the treatment of minor conditions.
Nets and Zambonis make way for the concert stage
In many American cities, professional basketball and hockey teams have long been the anchor tenants, or landlords, in the local arena. But amid continued strong demand for live music, many arena developers are forgoing live sports entirely and building new arenas devoted largely to concerts, the Wall Street Journal reports. Arenas can generate twice as much net revenue from a concert than an NBA or NHL game, and the live industry music is expected to grow to $38 billion by 2030, according to the Oak View sports facilities company. Oak View plans to build eight new arenas, six of which will be pro-sports free, in the next three years.
In an interesting twist, the live music trend has been driven by the same streaming services that have steadily eviscerated album sales since the turn of the century. As it turns out, the ability to reach millions of potential listeners instantly has allowed some popular new musicians to hit the arena circuit immediately, bypassing years of dues-paying in clubs and smaller theaters.
Innovation at a glance
- Stanford Healthcare’s new $2.1 billion hospital boasts a robotic pharmacy, a dedicated patient app, and a remote monitoring system connected to mobile devices instead of nursing station alarms
- Walmart will open its second standalone Walmart Health clinic in Georgia, with plans for a broader expansion looming
- Intermountain Healthcare has used a homegrown AI system to help improve its surgery performance while reducing costs by $90 million since 2015
- Aetna plans to pair up college-age caregivers with Medicare Advantage enrollees next year, in an effort to address loneliness among seniors