The announcement of the proposed takeover of Aetna (a health insurer) by CVS (a drugstore chain calling itself a “pharmacy innovation company”) has become a big news story. What does it mean for U.S. health care? More importantly, how will it impact us as individual patients (what some like to call “customers”)?
I don’t know.
I’m not sure anyone has clarity on this yet. We’ll have to wait and see if the deal goes through, and then how the behemoth merged company brings efficiency or monopolistic pricing to the market.
Mercy Virtual, which opened in 2015, calls itself “the world’s first and only facility of its kind.” The 125,000 sq. foot building houses health professionals who remotely monitor and consult for dozens of hospitals and ICUs. It’s all done telephonically, er, remotely, errr, virtually.
[Another article in that same Politico issue makes the case against hospital beds, on the basis of bed rest being counterproductive for nearly every medical condition we treat. I used to get frustrated watching people ‘decondition’ while laying around in bed. It’s a serious problem, especially in the elderly.]
Which leads directly to another future question: is the age of the virtualist upon us? Yes, as predicted in a recent JAMA column by Dr. Michael Nochomovitz, who makes the case for a medical specialty devoted to care of patients through technology.
It may be the way of the future, but it sure makes performing physical exams harder.
These times. They are a changin’.
*Chinatown. Noah Cross (played by John Huston) to private investigator J.J. Gittes (Jack Nicholson).