The healthcare industry had to adapt quickly to cope with the social distancing measures put in place to help flatten the curve of COVID-19 infections. At the height of the pandemic, hospitals, clinics, and doctors looked to telehealth for a way to provide the same level of care while limiting the spread of the coronavirus. Key trends in the use of technology have emerged, which will continue to shape the future of telehealth services.
Simply put, telehealth is the use of communication technology to provide healthcare services to patients who are not in the same physical location, such as video chat via apps or webcams, phones, or video conference software.
In the years 2020-2021, telehealth is becoming more prevalent in all aspects of the industry. Telehealth utilization increased by more than 154 percent in late March of 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), compared to the same period in 2019.
Furthermore, according to current Fortune Business Insight predictions, the market will be worth more than $397 billion USD by 2027.
To demonstrate the impact of the pandemic, the market was only worth $42 billion USD in 2019. 5 While usage has declined since the pandemic's peak, it is clear that telehealth is now an important part of the future of healthcare delivery.
What is now becoming clear is a renewed appreciation for the strategic potential that telehealth will bring to the healthcare industry.As organizations around the world plan to keep using this technology, here are eight key trends driving the future of telehealth.
1.Patient utilization has increased.
What began as a strategy to reduce the amount of community transmission has resulted in an active discussion among healthcare professionals about the future continuation of telehealth consultations for many clients. For non-urgent and follow-up appointments, it is now considered a cost-effective first line of treatment.
Telehealth utilization had stabilized at 38 times pre-pandemic levels as of July 2021. Even prior to the pandemic, evidence supported increased use of telehealth. According to a McKinsey survey, 76 percent of patients are interested in using telehealth in the future. Furthermore, in a study published in the Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare, more than half of respondents said they would use telehealth to; refill medications, get ready for a visit, review test results, or get education Moving forward, we can expect healthcare providers and insurance companies to collaborate to expand the availability and accessibility of telehealth.
2. Improvements in chronic care management
Around one-third of all adults worldwide suffer from a chronic condition, which includes kidney disease, heart disease, cancer, lung disease, alzheimers, diabetes, and stroke complications. Most of the time, lifestyle choices and preventative care methods can assist these patients in preventing and treating these diseases. However, many of these patients do not complete their treatment, do not take or refill their repeat prescriptions, and do not attend their regular follow-up appointments to help manage their symptoms.
This noncompliance with a care plan costs the industry billions of dollars each year. Telehealth has the potential to not only lower the cost of a care plan, but also to increase patient engagement and adherence. Telehealth allows patients to connect with their doctor quickly and frequently. Getting rid of the need for long waits in waiting rooms and the cost of constant commutes to the doctor's office. Furthermore, more frequent contact between patients and doctors may allow small problems to be identified early enough to reduce the risk of further problems or complications.
3. increased emphasis on mental health
Mental health disorders affect slightly more than 10% of the world's population. The pandemic only seemed to exacerbate the situation, causing an increase in depression and anxiety as a result of lockdowns, isolation, and increased fear of the unknown. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted mental health services in 93 percent of countries worldwide. Those who were already receiving treatment saw their support groups close, their clinic appointments canceled, and their options for symptom relief become severely limited.
Many therapists, counsellors, and doctors quickly turned to video conferencing to continue to support their patients in order to continue to treat them. As a result, the development of teletherapy and telepsychiatry began, and this will most likely become a widely accepted form of treatment in the future. Even in the absence of the pandemic, it is estimated that only about half of those diagnosed with mental health disorders receive treatment. This is due in part to the scarcity of specialists in a given field, but with the advancement of teletherapy and telepsychiatry, this should be a thing of the past.
These are the key trends that have emerged in the last 18 months since the widespread adoption of telehealth services. Telehealth offers so many benefits to the healthcare industry that, while we are nearing the end of the pandemic, the use of this revolutionary technology will continue for a long time.
Telehealth has proven to be not only more convenient for patients, but it also has the potential to provide numerous additional benefits such as improving public health, improving access to care, relieving pressure on the healthcare workforce, and assisting in the reduction of financial stress.