The coronavirus pandemic has forced healthcare providers to ramp up their telehealth services. Telehealth may seem like a temporary solution, but it’s here to stay. In fact, telehealth is one of the top 10 trends to leverage this year. It’s important for your health practice to know the current trends, potential benefits, as well as challenges in this switch to online healthcare.
Read more for our tips on remote care in 2021!
What is Remote Care & Telehealth?
Telehealth is healthcare that takes place over the internet or over the phone. This can come in the form of live video calls, mobile health apps, remote patient monitoring, store-and-forward imaging, or other solutions that allow long-distance communication between a doctor and patient. With COVID-19, a crowded healthcare facility becomes unsafe and efficiency is more important now than ever in healthcare. This environment has made innovation and adaptation mandatory in the health space.
Remote care and telehealth ensure that medical professionals can provide services to patients who need care without the added risk of spreading disease.
Telehealth is Here to Stay – Here’s Why
Remote care isn’t just a response to the pandemic. It’s been a trend for a while now, and COVID-19 has merely accelerated its adoption in the healthcare space. Here are some important remote care & telehealth stats:
- About 74% of patients in the U.S. said they would use telehealth services (American Hospital Association)
- About 74% of patients are comfortable with communicating with their doctors using technology instead of seeing them in person (Cisco)
- About 67% of patients said that using telemedicine somewhat or significantly increases their satisfaction with medical care (Software Advice)
Remote care and telehealth make healthcare more accessible to a larger group of people. There will always be a need for patients to see a medical professional in-person in some capacity, but telehealth will likely increase and become a permanent part of global healthcare.
Telehealth Trends to Keep an Eye On
Here are some telehealth trends you should know about:
We’re already seeing increased adoption of telehealth for the reasons stated above. According to FAIR health, from 2014 to 2018, private insurance claims for non-hospital-based, provider-to-patient telehealth grew 1393%. If we take this statistic as any indication, the adoption of remote care practices is likely to continue its upward growth.
The rise of new devices
As more people adopt telehealth, a whole new industry of devices will rise to accompany the trend. Technologies like telemonitoring devices, home messaging services, monitoring centers, and voice recognition will be used to make remote healthcare more streamlined and efficient.
Further innovation and disruption
As the market for remote health care increases, the industry will continue to come up with ways to innovate in the space. This could mean more integrations with Internet of Things (IoT) connected devices. There will also be new telehealth-focused companies sprouting up and large companies like Google, Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft will find ways to contribute and innovate in the space.
Especially with younger healthcare professionals who prefer flexibility, we will see a continued trend toward more decentralized healthcare. For example, a large hospital may offer a wider variety of services in more locations or completely remotely.
Telehealth Benefits and Challenges
While remote care & telehealth is on the rise, there are key benefits to this new way of healthcare. Some of those are:
Improved patient engagement
People may be more likely to engage with the healthcare system, go in for their regular check-ups, and follow-up with healthcare professionals when the healthcare process is online and more accessible.
Remote patient care decreases overhead costs per medical visit and cuts down on no-shows. Providers can also bill for unanswered phone calls and even extend their hours with the time that would otherwise be spent closing up a physical location.
Improved workflows and efficiency
By removing the physical element of a doctor’s visit, patients no longer need to drive and physicians no longer need to move from one room to the next. Patient care and delivery can be more quickly prioritized, and a standard check-becomes more efficient with telehealth. Not only does this give patients and doctors more time in their day, it also improves patient satisfaction because the process is smoother overall.
Just like there are benefits to remote care & telehealth, there are also challenges providers should know about and prepare for:
With more patient meetings happening via video chat, there is an increased risk of giving information away on an insecure network or even hacking. In either case, private patient information could be leaked. Health care providers will definitely have to prioritize cybersecurity to keep patient records protected.
Buy-in from older patients
Senior patients need accessible healthcare the most. However, telehealth for some is a very novel concept that can be difficult to get used to. Many older patients struggle to use new technology, and remote healthcare is no different.
Providers will need to prepare for this challenge by offering learning programs and individual assistance for patients who may be slower to adapt to the remote care trend.
Patients without internet connections
Some patients may lack the internet connection needed to access telehealth services. That may be because their internet is too slow for video chat or because they don’t have internet access at all. Although some functions of telehealth can be accomplished over the phone, this does pose a challenge for providers who want to be able to assist everyone.
Lag from insurance
Health insurance coverage differs by state and by insurance company. Some insurance providers may be slow to adapt to telehealth practices. For example, some insurers cover both video and telephone calls while others cover only video calls. The regulation from insurance providers and the red tape involved with that will be a potential challenge for healthcare providers.
Are you prepared for the future of telemedicine and telehealth? Now that you’ve read up on the challenges and benefits of telehealth, you’ll be better equipped to make the most out of telehealth in your workplace.
Learn more about Dolbey’s Fusion Narrate to further help improve patient care and workflows through quality software, emerging technology, and exceptional service.