Types of Healthcare Delivery Systems

In recent years, healthcare delivery systems have been focused on providing patients as much freedom of choice when it comes to their personal healthcare. These common types also allow for efficiency, lowered costs, and ease of use.

1. Telemedicine

Although telemedicine existed before the COVID-19 pandemic, it has seen monumental growth in recent years.

A relatively new healthcare delivery system, telemedicine allows doctors and patients to meet remotely, typically over a video call. This system allows for easy reminders and messages to be sent to patients, and for patients to have extremely quick access to healthcare providers.

Telemedicine can be an extremely cost-effective method for both physicians and patients as it does not demand the typical use of office space or equipment. This can greatly reduce costs for patients and allows care to be given to those who would not usually be able to afford it.

Not only can telemedicine save time, but it can also lessen the spread of infectious diseases by reducing or eliminating in-person office visits.

A popular option for telemedicine, Teladoc offers a general medical visit for $75 without insurance. According to Consumer Health Ratings, an average physician’s office visit in 2018 cost $298.  

2. Concierge Services

Concierge services are otherwise known as concierge medicine.

Instead of requiring varying payments like other healthcare providers, concierge medicine instead charges an annual fee, sometimes called a retainer.

Think of it as like a subscription fee you’d pay for a gym membership. This annual fee provides a closer relationship between the patient and physician in which patients can receive more personalized and quicker service.

This is another very new type of healthcare system. This system can allow for better care, decreased costs, sometimes included video consultations, and much larger access to services that patients may not have been able to access with traditional insurance.

3. Managed Care

A managed care plan includes Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO’s), Preferred Provider Organizations (PPO’s) and Point of Service Plans.

These types of plans need to always adapt due to new laws and demands.

Health Maintenance Organization (HMO)

An HMO or Health Maintenance Organization is another type of plan that requires a fixed annual fee or premium.

Compared to concierge services, an HMO restricts patients to a particular group of physicians instead of a singular physician.

Normally, the physicians that the patient can choose from are within a certain geographical area.

Preferred Provider Organization (PPO)

A preferred provider organization, or PPO, allows the patient to choose any doctor, however, those within the network of the preferred providers may be significantly cheaper than ones outside of the network.

This is a wonderful plan for someone who needs the freedom to choose a provider outside of their designated plan. A patient can use any doctor or visit any hospital without restriction. This allows for a higher amount of control over the patient’s personal healthcare.

However, this type of plan usually costs more compared with HMOs. There could also be added stress to the patient due to finding a doctor that is right for them compared to simply choosing a provider within a set network.

Point of Service Plans

This plan could be viewed as a combination of HMOs and PPOs as it lets the patient choose between either one every time that a patient needs medical care.

This is a hybrid of HMOs and PPOs as the patient may be required to choose a primary care provider. However, the patient can still go outside of the network.

4. Integrated Delivery System (IDS)

This healthcare delivery system is a group of healthcare providers under one parent holding company.

Other healthcare systems may become confusing as there could be many different unorganized components. An integrated delivery system provides an organized, cost-effective, efficient way to receive medical care.

5. Self-Directed Services

Under Medicaid, self-direct services allow patients the right to make decisions related to their own healthcare instead of leaving these choices up to their agency

This allows the patient increased freedom to choose a caregiver with whom they feel most comfortable.

The patient will have an approved budget with which they can make decisions on which providers they choose. This can greatly help a patient who needs daily, at-home care.

What is a Healthcare Delivery System?

A healthcare delivery system is any arrangement of organizations, individuals, or providers that makes healthcare accessible to a population.

Since the US does not have a singular healthcare system, this can result in a complicated array of providers. Think of it as all the combined components that allow you to receive healthcare.

This is an umbrella term that confusingly uses the word “system.” There is not an exact system that is followed. Rather, the word “system” is used to include anything that allows individuals to receive healthcare in the US. For example, this could consist of an insurance provider, a claims processor, a physician, a medical supplier, and a medical researcher, to name a few.

What is the Goal of a Healthcare Delivery System?

To be a successful healthcare delivery system, there are a few aspects that need to be up to par. The first aspect of a successful healthcare delivery system is an appropriate cost. Next, the system needs to hold up to other healthcare standards and provide quality service. It also needs to be personalized, safe, and efficient. Finally, the public needs to be able to easily access the system.

Not only do healthcare systems need to manage quality, costs, and access, there is an ever-growing demand for healthcare. According to the CDC, US physician office visits reached 883.7 million in 2018. Emergency department visits also reached 130 million. Because of this high demand, the delivery systems in healthcare need to constantly adapt and find innovative ways to reach markets. Having access to healthcare has become an incredibly important matter and has been in the spotlight due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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