Do you remember the good-old days when doctors made house calls? In 1930s America, doctors visited their patients at home about half of the time. It was the epitome of patient-centric care. However, as technology increased and transportation became less expensive, the humble family doctor was transformed into a team of specialists, lengthy waits at the doctor’s office and increasing cost.
House calls are making a comeback, but with a decidedly 21st century twist. Doctors can monitor a diabetic patient’s blood sugar levels by smartphone and intervene when necessary. In-home sensors are used to detect when an older person takes a fall and alert emergency services. These are just a few of the tools available to improve patient care and cut down on high medical expenses.
Another growing trend is the assessment of urgency levels, also called medical triage. Patients call a service center staffed with trained nurses and doctors, and are given an urgency level for their specific situation on the basis of standard protocols. On this basis, patients are advised to visit a specialist immediately or later, or simply to relax and stay calm. For patients, this brings a tremendous level of reassurance and guidance. Just imagine how you might feel if your child had a fever and you didn’t know what to do.
In cooperation with Allianz Turkey, Allianz Worldwide Partners has just introduced its own urgency level assessment and patient guidance: Dr. Allianz. Offered free-of-charge to its health insurance customers, the service center of Dr. Allianz is on duty 24 hours a day and seven days a week. Medical advice is provided over the phone and, if necessary, a doctor is sent to the patient’s home.
Dr. Allianz isn’t just a digital customer interface. Callers connect to real voices and are visited by real people, which is crucial for patients in those situations. Participants in the pilot program found that, in addition to saving time and getting expert advice, the service was very comforting. The numbers reflect its success. Dr. Allianz was able to handle 66 percent of its inquiries over the phone without having to send out a doctor or send the patient to a specialist.
In the absence of this service in countries like Turkey, patients might have to travel long distances to go to the doctor. Emergencies at night would mean a visit to the hospital. One mother of twins likes its convenience: “It can be chaotic getting the children into the car and driving to the hospital,” she says. “When I call Dr. Allianz, they send a doctor to the house. They even do the lab tests here. It’s that simple.”
One of the other advantages is that Dr. Allianz creates and manages a network of local healthcare providers to cover local needs. That guarantees patients receive high-quality care. Quality control is built in because customers have a mechanism to report their satisfaction with the healthcare provider.
Dr. Allianz is already open for 700,000 customers in Turkey. Coming next? Dr. Allianz’s digital assistant, the Symptom Checker app.