Even before the pandemic supercharged telehealth innovation, the remote delivery of clinical and non-clinical healthcare services was fast becoming the new normal. Today, as digital communications, diagnostic and monitoring technologies become increasingly sophisticated, there’s little doubt that telehealth will play a pivotal role in the delivery of healthcare services.
One much-lauded strength of telehealth is its accessibility: it makes it possible for patients to access care, free from the barriers of time or geography. But as the sector matures, this accessibility is now being extended to historically underserved patient groups. This is a movement being championed by a new breed of digital health providers: Vertically Integrated Micro-Providers (VIMPROs). VIMPROs are targeting pain points which have been serviced inadequately by earlier telehealth iterations, prioritising the empowerment and the treatment of patients in equal measure.
The term was first coined by Venture Capital firm Heal Capital in 2021, and refers to a digital healthcare provider focused on delivering an end-to-end service to a specific patient group.
VIMPROs are characterised by excellent user experience and personalised clinician-led care; typically offering diagnostics, prescribing, and treatment plans featuring own-brand medication, products and therapy delivered directly to patients on a subscription basis. They can be integrated within national healthcare systems or operate as private external providers.
Examples include dermatology solution SkinDoc, men’s health platform Numan, and chronic pain platform Leva Clinic, all of which offer single-platform access to specialist clinicians, diagnostic solutions and online medication management.
Prior to the proliferation of the VIMPRO, navigating the healthcare landscape could prove challenging and exclusionary for patients in need of highly-specialised support - especially for those living in more remote or rural areas. For a start, connecting with clinicians with the relevant experience and expertise was often a matter of luck or extensive travel. If they didn’t manage to secure an appointment with an appropriately-experienced clinician, patients had to advocate hard for themselves in order to be offered the right support or referral.
In addition, whether using traditional in-person healthcare or early telehealth models, moving from a consultation to the arranging of necessary tests and scans was a disjointed, complex process for patients. Then, any prescriptions were sent to the patient’s GP for signing and then on to a pharmacy for dispensing. The treatment pathways were fractured, likely involving several platforms and lengthy delays.
In contrast, the VIMPRO model is predicated on the delivery of a fully end-to-end, personalised digital treatment pathway on a single platform, employing sophisticated and secure digital integrations to ‘join the dots’ in the process. The clinician who performs the initial consultation is always an expert in that particular field - gynaecology, mental health, paediatrics etc. - and every step in the recommended treatment pathway can be actioned in a streamlined, connected manner. Patients receive the best care without delay, unrestricted by their physical location or the rarity of their condition. This is not a service reserved solely for those who can pay: VIMPROs are increasingly operating in partnership with national healthcare providers to plug gaps in their service provision.
By prioritising user experience and accessibility, and by deliberately targeting those excluded by mainstream healthcare provision, VIMPROs are further advancing the democratisation of global healthcare.
By providing a direct route to access care, they are helping to alleviate the triage and consultation burden that is currently overwhelming GPs and other primary care providers. And, by providing education on health management in conjunction with treatment, they are helping patients to self-manage their own health and preventing secondary care admissions further down the line.
The success of the VIMPRO model is only as successful as the technologies that connect and integrate the different service providers. Phlo Connect provides the technology that underpins the seamless prescribing and medication delivery that VIMPRO users expect.
One of our current VIMPRO partners is Leva Clinic, a ground-breaking medical cannabis clinic. They are using our API-driven platform to enable their patients - who are experiencing debilitating chronic pain - to safely and speedily receive their medical cannabis prescriptions without leaving the house.
Together, Phlo Connect and our VIMPRO partners are working to ensure that every patient is provided with a seamless pathway to access the tailored care and medications they need. This is an essential part of ensuring that no one is left behind as we transition to a digital-first healthcare landscape.
To find out more about how Phlo Connect can help your business, get in touch with the team.