Telehealth isn’t going away any time soon.
Telehealth was surging before the pandemic – and the pandemic pushed telehealth to new levels.
As telehealth rises in popularity, organizations are implementing telehealth in different ways. Some are investing billions into telehealth. Others are getting left behind.
Today, we’re highlighting the most important telehealth trends for 2021, including some of the rising and falling movements we’ve seen from telehealth in recent months.
1) A Growing Emphasis on Preventative Health for Patients and Families
The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the importance of family health. Moving forward, we’re seeing families put a renewed emphasis on protecting themselves and their loved ones.
As the dust settles on the COVID-19 pandemic, families want to prepare for the next threat. They’re more interested in preventative medicine. They might be more careful about scheduling checkups or managing conditions. Some have lost loved ones – and they recognize the importance of preventative care more than ever.
2) Premium Telehealth Services Are Increasingly Becoming Standard
Telehealth services that were once considered “premium” are rapidly becoming standard. Remote patient monitoring and asynchronous communication, for example, are becoming more popular with providers.
Early in telemedicine, remote patient monitoring and asynchronous communication were premium services implemented by few providers. Today, they’re part of the standard operating procedure at many hospitals.
3) Patients Will Control More Aspects of Their Health Than Ever
Patient-controlled health is the future. For decades, healthcare organizations have controlled patient data and dictated patient’s decisions. Moving forward, things are starting to change.
With patient-controlled health, the patient makes decisions in consultation with a healthcare provider. Instead of directly following the provider’s guidance, the patient makes a collaborative decision.
Patient-controlled health is fuelled by growing access to health technology and data. Patients have more insights into their health. They have more information than ever. With this information accessible at their fingertips, patients may take a more active role in managing their own health.
4) Relaxed (or Clearer) Telemedicine Regulations
Healthcare organizations face regulatory hurdles as they implement telehealth systems.
We saw authorities relax some regulations at the beginning of the pandemic, and it’s possible we’ll see new regulatory frameworks emerge in the coming months.
Relaxed HIPAA Regulations early in the pandemic, for example, made it easier for providers to treat patients remotely.
As telemedicine becomes more common, providers will push for more regulatory clarity – or relaxed regulations. Regulatory clarity makes it easier for organizations of all sizes to implement telehealth systems and stay competitive.
5) Telemedicine Visits Will Be More Common than In-Person Visits
Eventually, we’ll reach a point where telemedicine visits become more important than in-person visits.
Telemedicine is convenient. It works around the schedules of patients. It does not require in-person appointments or a day off work.
More serious problems may require in-person visits, but many aspects of patient care can move to telehealth – or have already moved to telehealth.
6) Increased Insurance Acceptance of Telehealth
Medicare, Medicaid, and many major insurers now cover telehealth visits. It’s a big shift for the industry – and it sets the stage for rapid future growth of telemedicine.
Expect insurers to provide further clarity on how they cover telemedicine – and what they cover. Telemedicine is going mainstream, and insurers need to keep up.
7) Telemedicine Will Branch Beyond Basic Healthcare
Today’s telemedicine is the tip of the iceberg. We’re just beginning to see the potential of telehealth.
Moving forward, telemedicine will grow into spaces like mental health, providing remote psychology and psychiatry services to patients. We’ll see telemedicine deal with prescriptions (some call it “ePrescribing”).
Providers are still figuring out how to implement advanced healthcare with telemedicine. Expect more developments in the near future.
8) Healthcare Provider Location Will Be Less Relevant
Telemedicine is changing the way healthcare organizations – and all organizations – think about location. Location is becoming less relevant.
Let’s say a patient returns home after surgery. Traditionally, doctors may ask the patient to return to the hospital for a checkup. With telemedicine, patients can receive instant care at home whenever they need it, making location less relevant.
Similarly, some healthcare providers will invest heavily into telemedicine, providing healthcare services to patients across the country from remote locations. Some providers may even maintain remote offices, distributing employees around the world.
9) Increased Focus on Patient Data Management
Patient data management has become increasingly important in recent years. With telehealth, patient data is increasingly being transferred and tracked online – and that means organizations need to invest in secure patient data management systems.
Even the best healthcare organizations are one data leak away from losing their reputation.
Expect tech companies to lead the charge. Countless tech startups are already maneuvering to become patient health data management leaders. Tech giants like Apple, Google, and Amazon may also get involved.
What Comes Next?
Telehealth has always been the future.
In recent years, healthcare providers have tried to figure out remote healthcare. The COVID-19 pandemic was like getting thrown into the deep end.
Will your organization sink or swim as telemedicine expands?
Contact HMI, LLC today to speak with experienced healthcare consultants with proven experiencing solving complex problems.