As most of us know, the COVID-19 pandemic has opened the floodgates for telehealth, removing long-standing barriers to adoption and dramatically transforming patient care. It has practically overnight ushered in the era of virtual care and this market is experiencing exponential growth (e.g. see recent Teladoc quarterly results). With this burgeoning market and technology comes a plethora of benefits for patients and providers which can help to create a new standard of care and better overall healthcare experience.
First, it’s important to note that since the spectacular growth of virtual care from COVID-19, many have questioned whether or not telehealth use will persist post-pandemic. We believe that telehealth use will continue, but perhaps it might not be as high as it is now. Time will tell. We definitely believe though that since Dr. Anthony Fauci, our nation’s head of infectious disease, believes we will have a second wave of this and most likely a third, and this virus won’t stop till a vaccine is available; then telehealth use will be needed.
Telehealth is simply an efficient healthcare solution saving time and resources for patients and providers. It’s convenient, safe and covered by insurance now (parity for most services), which has been critical for its growth coupled with COVID-19. Of course, it will be interesting to see how the use of it evolves when the stay at home restrictions start to lift and life returns to some normalcy. We believe that the benefits and advantages of this technology for both patients and providers will keep it in pole position as the first choice due to it’s convenience and insurance coverage.
It will be interesting to see in the next few months whether the CMS & ONC will continue to allow the use of iPhones and Skype for telehealth use. I imagine that these channels will not persist since they are not HIPAA compliant, but who knows right? If there are no major issues with them, then they might be allowed. Also, since some healthcare workers are having issues with some telehealth platforms that their system offers, workers have been relying on Facetime since it is so easy to access. Zoom, iPhones, Skype all offer very convenient and low cost options which make it easier for all parties to engage.
We anticipate that like in most markets only a handful of platforms will persist and the ones that are the most user friendly, efficient, and offer interoperability will rise to the head of the pack over time. One thing is for sure now, the age of virtual care, meetings and visits is upon us.