What the Stores Closures for Macy’s and GAP Mean for Telemedicine

What Macy’s and The Gap Announcements in Retail Mean for Telemedicine

Two announcements for retailers this fiscal quarter should result in some reality testing for our healthcare system.

· Gap announced the closure of 175 retail stores.

· Macy’s will close about 100 stores (15% of their total stores) nationally as sales in stores plummet.

The reason is online competition and shoppers seeking new alternatives (Read: buying online; sometimes after visiting the above stores to examine the merchandise). Other reasons, all of which are secondary to the online experience, include ‘dwindling mall traffic’ and ‘stores that are not efficient’.

Not all of medical care can be met with an online experience, but certainly there are plenty of opportunities to deliver medical care, expedite medical care, and decrease the cost of the entire healthcare economic experience. If the patient does not need to travel to do a face-to-face encounter with a clinician in order to accomplish some medical goal, then this can be assumed to be an improved experience.

· Patient requires a refill in a medication

· Patient requires a follow-up of blood pressure

· Patient is due for bloodwork and needs an order, then review of results

· Review of any medical testing

· General medical questions

· Recommendations for consultations with specialists or testing or direction on where to turn to for further care.

As the online experience for the patient and their primary care physician improves with an smaller technological gaps, much can be accomplished without delays in care (at the very least with the above scenarios), decreased costs (no travel costs, no loss of income with travel and waiting) and expedited care ultimately getting the patient to the care that they really need. Furthermore, as other connectivity issues are integrated into online platforms, care will improve greatly. Most of us think of the online experience as binary between a patient and the clinician, but platforms exist where other experts can be called into a visit. This further reduces costs greatly while delivering improved deliberate care. Other platforms allow the examiner to call in an interpreter, an incredible advantage when interpretation is needed at the moment of the visit.

When we look at Macy’s and the GAP closing stores, the future for many physicians delivering primary care and chronic care may not need offices in their future.

© 2016 Scott Matthew Bolhack MD, MBA, CMD, CWS, FACP, FAAP

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