4 Ways telehealth will reshape healthcare delivery
How consumer behavior will drive the adoption of virtual care
When people were asked to stay home during the early stages of the pandemic, many healthcare organizations had to drastically increase telehealth services. By mobilizing quickly, hospitals and clinics were able to offer primary and secondary care, as well as COVID-19 screening and prescription services, online or via phone.
Beyond the pandemic
According to a report from the PwC Health Research Institute, 91% of respondents have used video virtual care and would do so again in the future. Advances in technology and consumers' desire for convenience are expected to drive adoption of virtual care to a level that disrupts the traditional care delivery system.
The convenience for patients is great. The technology also allows family members to be more informed and involved in their loved ones' care. And providers are embracing telehealth and the insight it can give into the day-to-day lives of the people in their care.
According to the PwC report, consumer behavior amid the pandemic will impact healthcare organizations in four ways — and telehealth is expected to guide the response.
Here's a look at 4 ways that telehealth is changing the delivery of healthcare services:
- Reduces gaps in care. Telehealth technology enables healthcare consumers to see clinicians from the safety of their homes, while medication reminders and toolshelp patients stay on track with refills.
- Empowers patients to manage chronic conditions.For healthcare consumers who visit their doctor's office often, telehealth enables them to get treatment for chronic conditions without missing work or securing childcare.
- Addresses social determinants of health. Survey respondents said COVID-19 heightened the impact of the nonclinical factors that influence their well-being: mental health, isolation, nutrition, employment, finances, exercise and more. Increased access to care via telehealth can help to address some of these concerns.
- Telehealth helps increase healthcare value and affordability. Telehealth technology saves patients time and money; reduces patient transfers, emergency department and urgent care center visits; and delivers savings to payers. In addition, telehealth helps address physician burnout by reducing clinicians' drive times and allowing more time for patients.
There are some disadvantages with telehealth, including:
- Lack of physical testing. While some testing can be ordered remotely, in-person visits are still necessary for other tests, like MRIs, X-rays, or CT scans.
- Can intensify inequities in health care. Telehealth is typically done through video or phone calls, so it's necessary to have access to the devices required to run those services. Some of the most vulnerable and at-risk populations lack access to that technology.
- There's a learning curve. Telehealth requires the use of technology that many may not be familiar with. This is especially difficult for older adults who aren't familiar with more advanced technology.
- Communication can be more difficult. Some people aren't verbal communicators, which is a necessary factor for telehealth services. In these cases, clinicians rely on body language and other non-verbal cues during in-person visits. Many of these non-verbal cues are missed with telehealth.
- Less stringent guidelines. Some organizations are able to provide telehealth services without licensed clinicians. Because of this, it's important to make sure you're seeking out licensed professionals when necessary.
- Technical issues. With technology, there will always be technical problems, like connectivity issues, that can get in the way of proper care.
Incorporating telehealth in your organization
We can help you assess your current system and develop a telehealth presence that will meet your needs—now and in the future. Call 888.805.9101 or email us to learn more about how Coffey Communications can help you make the most of telehealth.