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Hospital-Hotel Partnerships Push DTC Telehealth to a New Population

South Florida-based Memorial Healthcare is building new business for its two-year-old direct-to-consumer telehealth service by forging partnerships with local resorts.

Source: ThinkStock

By Eric Wicklund

- A South Florida health system is pushing its two-year-old direct-to-consumer telehealth program out to the region’s tourist population.

The six-hospital, Hollywood-based Memorial Healthcare System recently signed partnerships with two large hotels, the Diplomat Beach Resort and the Newport Beachside Hotel & Resort, to give guests access to the MemorialDOCNow service. Health system officials say they’re actively recruiting other resorts to build up their connected care network.

“A vacation should never turn into a trip to the hospital,” Denise Haddad, general manager of the Newport Beachside Hotel & Resort, told a local news station. “With the MemorialDOCNow app, our guests can video chat with a doctor from their hotel room and have a prescription sent electronically to a nearby pharmacy if needed. This will make the experience a little better when the unexpected happens.”

MemorialDOCNow, built on the American Well platform, offers a virtual visit with a physician for $59, and covers non-urgent conditions typical of a DTC service, including colds, infections and allergies.

The hotel partnerships represent a new strategy for hospitals and health systems looking to boost their DTC programs to compete with retail and stand-alone urgent care clinics, as well as concierge medicine and vendor-based telehealth programs.

They also give healthcare providers in tourist-friendly areas a chance to build up business for a service that generally takes time to gain traction.

“You’re definitely going to be underwhelmed before you’re going to be overwhelmed,” Shayan Vyas, MD, medical director of telemedicine for the Jacksonville-based Nemours Children’s Hospital, which launched its CareConnect service in 2015, pointed out at an American Telemedicine Association panel event in 2017.

Memorial Healthcare officials say the hotel partnerships are a natural fit for a telehealth service that caters to people seeking care for minor health concerns – particularly in a region that caters to so many visitors who don’t know where the nearest hospital or clinic might be.

“With this first-of-its-kind partnership, Memorial Healthcare System is providing a convenient, cost-effective alternative to emergency room or urgent care center visits for medical care for minor conditions and illnesses,” Bill Manzie, the health system’s Administrative Director of Telehealth Strategy, told the Hollywood Gazette. “Now, tourists who are visiting Hollywood hotel and resort locations can have a consult with a physician with just a swipe of their finger.”

“The MemorialDOCNow application is available at all times, and this partnership shows how progressive hotels can provide innovation in healthcare and service to its patrons, through the convenience of telehealth,” he added. “Having 24-hour access to a physician who can prescribe medicine when needed can improve the travel experience immensely when a hotel guest is not feeling well and needs medical support.”

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