Remote Care: Telehealth's Last Mile
Updated: May 3
During Covid Telehealth became mainstream fast. But a gap remains. These are the people bridging it.
After the pandemic demand for medical care has increased. We are on a trend to see more demand for personalized, on-demand, non-urgent medical care. What was once a niche is becoming mainstream. Heatlh Tech companies may acquire "high class problems": not raising too much debt too quickly and not losing their plucky startup efficiency in the process. Telehealth adoption has dropped since its COVID peak, but as healthcare systems are sliding into a permanent staffing crisis usecases of Telehealth are shifting. Telehealth has gone from a reaction to a crisis to the building of a new model of care. Part of that new model is the integration of telehealth into new remote care paradigms that involve increasingly integrated and centralized platforms. These platforms aim delivering virtual primary and urgent care, behavioral health, at-home lab testing, genomics testing, chronic care management, pharmacy and care navigation. Some big players are entering this space, consolidating solutions from smaller companies into big platforms. In the United Kingdom one big new player is British Telecom which is launching a virtual ward platform. Despite viral posts about CHAT GPT being better than doctors people strong person in-person visits. According to an upcoming report from Ernst and Young, 84% of surveyed respondents prefer in person care citing a preference for personal inspection by health professionals. 77% want a deeper connection with their clincian. Chat GPT isn't as popular as the viral posts on Social Media suggest. However telehealth is the preferred choice for prescription renewals, test results and minor medical conditions. And 44% of respondents indicated a preference for a virtual visit with a physician for first contact primary care. There are also: Knowledge: End users may not know their options. Clinicians may not know how to educate vulnerable patients. Technology: Some end users simply don't have access to the technology, devices, or connectivity needed. Process: Regulatory barriers, reimbursement conflicts and licensing issues. Cultural: Some clinicians and patients are skeptical or distrustful of change. Security: Data privacy and security concerns. Governments, keen to capitalize on telemedicine's benefits to beleaguered health systems, have stepped in. Most recently in Europe with the EU4Health program which has been expanded to include non-EU members such as Norway, Iceland, Ukraine and Moldova.
What is next for telehealth and remote care?