Direct-to-consumer (DTC) healthcare is more than a buzzword. As health care gets ever more expensive, you might be hearing it a lot more. So let’s break down what DTC healthcare is and what it might mean for you. Yes, you!

Direct-to-consumer health: the new normal

Direct-to-consumer healthcare mainly consists of products and services that you, as a consumer, can access without having to go through an intermediary. These intermediaries are normally medical professionals or healthcare companies.
DTC healthcare is often synonymous with startups. Most companies that are excelling in this industry are fairly young. According to Medium, over 4 billion dollars of venture capital has been invested in DTC companies as of July 2018.
Consumer health is experiencing a rapid and monumental shift with the entrance of this new industry. Many people are taking advantage of the lower costs and ease of access that DTC healthcare offers. Essentially, companies are creating solutions outside of the traditional healthcare system in the US.

The large and small of consumer health

You probably have heard of the big stars of the DTC healthcare industry: Warby Parker, Smile Direct Club, and 23andMe. These companies bring products and services literally to your door. Want glasses or teeth aligners for a whole lot less, now you can order online.
The same goes for many other products. In addition to healthcare products, tech companies are getting on the consumer health bandwagon by offering software that tracks your health metrics. Everyone is looking to capitalize on the estimated $700 billion industry of consumer health.

How can DTC healthcare help consumers?

No matter your location or demographics, direct-to-consumer healthcare can make your life easier. In addition to delivering products straight to your door, consumer health companies are aware that you can easily take your business elsewhere and prioritize your needs as a customer. Many of these companies are known for their personalized and helpful customer service—something often unheard-of in the healthcare world.
DTC healthcare also allows you to customize healthcare to your personal needs. Consumers are able to pick a la carte what services and products they need the most, rather than paying an arm and a leg for services they may not need. A healthy young person who just needs eyeglasses, for example, can forgo expensive health insurance and just buy eyeglasses online.

Not all DTC healthcare companies are created equal

Of course, one of the drawbacks of direct-to-consumer healthcare is the relative absence of medical professionals. Some people feel more secure in using traditional healthcare methods that allow them to regularly see doctors. It’s important that you go for physical checkups at least once a year, so you can continue being seen by the experts. However, it might be easier and cheaper for many to go to the doctor once or twice a year and utilize DTC healthcare for everything else. Before purchasing any health product or service online, check that the DTC company is backed by good reviews, the Better Business Burea, AARP, Consumer Reports, or other reputable sources.

By: Elena McPhillips

Sources: Medium.com, CB Insights

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