$5.2B In Savings From OTC And Patient Self-Diagnosis?

This is an interesting piece with some good data in it.  It estimates that 10% of physician visits are for minor healthcare items where an OTC (over-the-counter) drug could be used.  It then estimates that if 50% of those unnecessary visits were eliminated we could save $5.2B.  It will certainly get some political attention (which it already has).

I have a lot of questions:

  1. How does the patient know that their “ailment” is something to self-diagnose?
  2. Does self-diagnosis lead to new issues?
  3. What are the restrictions around OTCs versus Rx products?  [Look at Prilosec OTC which has labeling limiting it’s long-term use versus the Rx product which could be viewed as a maintenance drug.]
  4. Were there other benefits to the patient and healthcare system of them visiting the physician?

On the other hand, if I were a clinic company (think MinuteClinic or TakeCare Clinic), this would be great.  It’s proposing to move 26M physician visits to another channel.  I think the research believes this all jumps to Dr. Google, but I think it’s more likely that this gets pushed to clinics (and hopefully not to ERs). 

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