3 new places you'll find healthcare

'I think what we could see is big grocery stores turning into health management companies that also sell food.'
By Jeff Rowe
09:50 AM

When you're sick, you go to a doctor. But where do you go when you just want to take care of yourself? Most people probably aren't accustomed to thinking that way, but as wellness programs become more common it's safe to say people are going to be looking for more regular healthcare guidance, even between visits to the doctor.

At Viridian Health Management, a lifestyle management company launched in 2005, founder and CEO Brenda Schmidt says she's been focused on developing IT tools that can enhance the ability of people to both collect and deliver health information in "non-traditional health settings."

Noting that electronic health records, often considered the go-to tool for collecting and storing patient information, are designed primarily for the documentation of patient visits to the doctor's office, Schmidt pointed to the need for "physician extenders" that will help providers deliver more comprehensive care based on more frequent collection of patient information.

"We've seen a lot of enthusiasm from providers wanting to get help in filling in the blanks," she said.  

So where might you find the new "doctor's office?"

  • The workplace. Many corporations are embracing in-house wellness programs as a way of trying to get a handle on their own healthcare costs. But tools such as Viridian's Maestro Total Care Management System are allowing employers to track program outcomes, including how employees are doing at meeting goals and responding to incentives.
  • The retail pharmacy. It's common to see equipment such as blood pressure cuffs waiting for use near the pharmacist's window, but according to Schmidt "the next evolution of those BP machines will be multi-faceted kiosks that will enable customers to take measurements such as their body fat index and their weight." Schmidt added that the kiosks will also be "high-tech telehealth machines" in that customers will be able to send their measurements directly to their providers.
  • The grocery store. In a manner similar to the "evolution" of the pharmacy, Schmidt sees interactive, smart-touch technology enabling grocery stores to move into digital health coaching, primarily around the subject of diet control, but in other areas as well in conjunction with their in-house pharmacies. "I think what we could see," she said, "is big grocery stores turning into health management companies that also sell food."

Despite the potential, Schmidt concedes that "the market isn't quite there yet" for the widespread  addition of many of these services in non-traditional venues, but "that will change as the evolution to value-based healthcare continues."

And with that change looming and consumer interest growing, she observed, "I see our space as providing platforms as others transform themselves into health management companies," in addition to what they've been doing all along.

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