Remote Care: Telehealth's Last Mile
Updated: Nov 7
Remote Care: Bridging the Telehealth Gap
The COVID-19 pandemic thrust telehealth into the mainstream, but challenges persist in reaching everyone. Let's explore the key developments in telehealth and the individuals and factors working to bridge the gap.
Post-pandemic, the demand for medical care continues to grow. People seek personalized, on-demand, non-urgent healthcare. What was once a niche is now becoming a common choice. Health tech companies now face new challenges, including managing their growth while maintaining their agile startup essence.
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While telehealth adoption has dropped from its COVID peak, its use cases are evolving. Telehealth is transitioning from a crisis reaction to establishing a new model of care.
A significant part of this transformation is the integration of telehealth into broader remote care paradigms. These encompass integrated and centralized platforms offering virtual primary and urgent care, behavioral health support, at-home lab testing, genomics testing, chronic care management, pharmacy services, and care navigation.
Major players are entering this arena, consolidating solutions from smaller companies. For example, British Telecom is launching a virtual ward platform in the United Kingdom.
The Human Touch in Healthcare
Notably, despite online claims, people still value in-person care. According to Ernst and Young, 84% of respondents prefer in-person care, emphasizing the importance of personal interaction with healthcare professionals. While Chat GPT and similar AI-driven solutions gain attention, they haven't replaced traditional medical care.
However, telehealth shines in specific areas like prescription renewals, test results, and minor medical conditions. In fact, 44% of respondents prefer virtual visits for initial primary care contact.
Challenges in Expanding Telehealth
Knowledge: Patients and clinicians may lack awareness of their options.
Technology: Some individuals lack access to the necessary devices or connectivity.
Regulatory and Licensing: Barriers, reimbursement conflicts, and licensing issues can hinder telehealth's growth.
Cultural: Skepticism and distrust of change among some clinicians and patients.
Security: Concerns over data privacy and security.
Governments recognize the potential of telemedicine in alleviating healthcare burdens. In Europe, the EU4Health program has expanded to include non-EU members such as Norway, Iceland, Ukraine, and Moldova, indicating growing support for telehealth solutions.
What lies ahead for telehealth and remote care? The path forward involves addressing the challenges, enhancing awareness, and embracing technology. Telehealth, while not replacing in-person care, remains a vital component of accessible and convenient healthcare.