During the past several months, many healthcare providers have seen their telehealth usage increase exponentially out of necessity. There simply weren’t other feasible options for treating patients, virtual visits was the only solution. The potential benefits of telehealth and other connected health services have been widely discussed, but general adoption by physicians and patients had not been increasing as quickly as might have been expected, despite the fact that patient response was overwhelmingly positive.
The question now is, are physicians finally ready to embrace telehealth and make it part of mainstream healthcare? The general feeling is many are, and CMS Administrator Seema Verma said, “Now that providers and patients have had a taste, it’s difficult to imagine the telehealth genie going back into a bottle.”
Healthcare providers seem to support that sentiment, with 57% having a more favorable perception of telehealth than they did at the beginning of the year, and even more (64%) being comfortable using telehealth tools.
Increased Patient Touchpoints
With access to a variety of connected health tools, physicians can create more touchpoints with clients for consultations, follow-ups, check-ins, reminders, and information exchange beyond the traditional in-person visits. The ability to drive increased engagement through telehealth tools can also make it easier for physicians to track patients’ progress and intervene sooner when necessary, rather than waiting for a scheduled in-person visit. It can also help patients become more aware of their health needs and empower them to become more involved in managing their wellness.
Physician Time Management
Healthcare providers may be able to more effectively leverage physician time, using downtime or empty slots in schedules for telehealth consultations without the additional cleaning and administrative needs between in-office patients. Providers may also be able to expand their service area or take on new patients by using telehealth tools to create more efficient engagements. Even simple tasks like automatically pulling up patient records can save time with each engagement.
Treatment and Medication Adherence
Connected health tools can help physicians more efficiently reinforce treatment plans. Whether it’s through remote patient monitoring devices that regularly report patient health readings, automated messages to take medication or do exercises, or just short video consults to see how patients appear physically – these tools can help reduce complications from non-adherence.
Diagnostic Improvements Through More Data
Connected health has the ability to create an increased volume of patient data that can be leveraged to diagnose conditions and effectiveness of treatments. Artificial intelligence can be integrated into diagnostics to improve decision making, both in terms of speed and accuracy, based on large pools of patient data. Similarly, remote patient monitoring devices can automate the delivery of individual patient data to providers to enable better monitoring of conditions and treatment plans.
Patients Want It
As with any service, demand can be an important driver for physicians to increase their use of connected health tools. It can also foster additional innovation, expand services, and help create new use cases. There is clear demand from patients who have had telehealth experiences. They are seeing it as a real alternative and 76% are interested in using telehealth going forward.
Connected health has promised to revolutionize healthcare for many years now, but a variety of factors have impeded progress. Now that circumstances have pushed so many providers and patients to use these technologies with positive results, it’s hard to imagine some of the recent growth not having a lasting impact. For sure, not all in-person visits can be replaced with virtual care, but as much as 20% of office, outpatient, and home healthcare spend could be diverted to virtual care models this year alone.
To learn more about how connected health can create new opportunities for better and more efficient care, see our connected health services here.