Telehealth Will Continue to Grow After Coronavirus Pandemic
The coronavirus pandemic sparked the growth of telehealth across the healthcare industry. This growth will continue after the pandemic, industry experts said at the Value-Based Care Summit | Telehealth20: Virtual Series.
Emily Sokol, MPH
June 12, 2020 - The healthcare industry saw an unprecedented rise in telehealth amidst the coronavirus pandemic. This trend will continue, according to industry leaders at the Value-Based Care Summit | Telehealth20: Virtual Series.
Various panels at the event highlight strategies and best practices across the industry. And attendees weighed in on their organization’s strategies to combat COVID-19 and plans to move forward in a post-coronavirus world.
Speakers from the Center for Telehealth and Connected Care at Dartmouth-Hitchock Medical Center, Boise State University, and St. John’s Health discussed how to reduce care disparities in rural populations using telehealth.
Meanwhile, representatives from Memorial Hermann Health System, SR Health by Solutionreach, and CHRISTUS Good Sheperd Health System walked through designing an effective business plan for telehealth solutions.
And UnitedHealthcare and Moonshot Health Consulting highlighted strategies for developing stronger payer/provider relationships for telehealth solutions after COVID-19.
A key element of all discussions was the important role telehealth have played, and continue to play, across the industry.
Stay-at-home orders meant many patients were not seeking care on-site. So organizations needed to adjust their practices if patients were going to continue receiving care safely. Telehealth was the obvious solution.
Unsurprisingly, 91 percent of conference attendees said the role of telehealth had increased at their organization since March 2020. And over two-thirds (68 percent) were explicitly motivated to participate in telehealth programs because of the coronavirus.
Now, as stay-at-home orders are lifting and hospitals and health systems are resuming elective care, organizations need to think about what telehealth programs will look like moving forward.
An overwhelming majority (96 percent) of attendees believe that telehealth’s role will continue to grow in the industry. Only 4 percent of respondents believe that telehealth’s role will stay the same.
Organizations will continue building their telehealth programs to support success. Sixty-eight percent said they planned to further invest in telehealth following the public health emergency. Another 44 percent said they plan to invest in IT infrastructure and capabilities, which support telehealth solutions. Robust IT capabilities allow telehealth programs to thrive.
Many organizations have gotten a handle on the coronavirus as case numbers begin to decline in some states. As these organizations come up for air, they can begin expanding these programs that helped them successfully respond to the pandemic.
There is some evidence organizations will get support in these pursuits. Telehealth is here to stay, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator, Seema Verma, has admitted.
“CMS’ rapid changes to telehealth are a godsend to patients and providers and [allow] people to be treated in the safety of their home,” she said in an earlier press release. “The changes we are making will help make telehealth more widely available in Medicare Advantage and are part of larger efforts to advance telehealth.”
Moving forward, telehealth’s role will only become more integral as organizations resume normal services and start to understand how the new normal of care delivery looks.