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WATCH: Jay Parkinson of Hello Health on innovation in health care

, ,    /   Mar 21st, 2011Interviews, National, New York City, Photos & Videos

In 2007, Jay Parkinson–a young doctor, observed the problems his many uninsured friends had with getting health care — finding care was expensive and incredibly time-consuming. And it wasn’t clear if it was always necessary — does that small gash itch because it’s infected or healing?

Parkinson began making housecalls around Williamsburg, Brooklyn to care for these friends and friends of friends without insurance. Prices were negotiated directly with patients and he augmented home visits with texts, IMs and video chats to diagnose and decide if an in-person visit was necessary. This system of healthcare delivery got rid of two expensive middlemen: insurance and healthcare infrastructure. It reduced the time the patient waited for care and errors in diagnoses.

Hello Health, a creation between Parkinson and Myca Health Inc, scaled-up Parkinson’s homegrown model of healthcare. Hello Health eliminates barriers to patient services with online and in-person communication in an Internet marketplace where only the healthcare provider and patient are involved. Since starting Hello Health, Parkinson has also launched Future Well, a consulting agency focused on creative solutions for healthy products and businesses—what he calls public health 2.0.

In this video, Parkinson discusses his “nostalgic” form of healthcare delivery and how he got Hello Health off the ground.

3 Responses

  1. Jennifer Chang says:

    Jay Parkinson’s idea of re-thinking and re-designing health and happiness by starting up Hello Health seems to be very innovative, bridging together new technology and media with traditional methods. His idea of designing a new digital system that would mitigate the traditional method of patients making medical appointments with their doctors seems to be a great idea and has proven to be a major hit since its introduction. I think this is a very simple yet innovative design solution to the existing problem that Parkinson pointed out, and it will impact consumers, however though only, throughout the United States and other urban countries and cities where technology is vast and booming.

    Although it is more convenient for doctors and patients to interact online now, a major issue stood out to me – emergency. What if the patient was very sick and needed to see his/her doctor immediately? How would Parkinson’s online system be helpful or of use then? The patient may not be that sick that he/she had to me admitted to a hospital, but what if they just had a regular flu that needed to be treated? Most of the time, we go to the doctor because we need immediate help and want to get better as soon as possible. But if we were to just use Parkinson’s system to check our doctor’s calendar for an available time for digital screening, which might end up taking days, then it defeats the purpose of having this online system. Patients can physically go to the doctor and be served faster than having to wait online for their appointment.

    Of course, majority of the time we have to make appointments with our doctors, for annual check ups etc, but usually if someone comes in that needs more help first, they would be assigned to see the doctor first. In this case, I question whether or not his system is really making our lives more convenient or more complicated. This point really stood out to me, as designers and social entrepreneurs, we have to be innovative and design a system that will create impact and be sustainable. We have to really consider whether our design idea makes live easier for consumers or actually more complicated in the long run.

    Another issue that I think Parkinson has to deal with is the older generation. His system seems to only be targeted at people who are technological savvy or young adults. Although he says that he cannot cater to the entire population’s needs, he should try to think of ways to reach the older generation that may not have the physical strength to go to the doctor, in which case, his system would be highly beneficial to them. The issue of sustainability is questionable here and from a social entrepreneurial point of view, Parkinson’s system seems to only be sustainable in urban cities and countries with advanced technology. This system would not be able to work in third world rural countries, as people do not even have the basic necessities, not to mention the infrastructure or the resources to implement his system.

    Overall, Parkinson’s idea seems to be successful but I believe he has some big issues to deal with and try to solve, if he were to continue to make his system sustainable and make us happier.

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  3. Jay’s approach is one which is extremely promising, and deserves to be given serious attention and replicated elsewhere. Of course it need be modified to meet local needs and conditions in different localities.
    A program that I started in India is centred around the home visits of local residents who have been trained as health care workers. They are backed-up by physicians and nutritionists, and have achieved well at very low cost. One of the many achievements is reducing infant mortality to one third of the rate when we started.