A year ago, we estimated that up to $250 billion of US healthcare spend could potentially be shifted to virtual or virtually enabled care. Approaching this potential level of virtual health is not a foregone conclusion. It would likely require sustained consumer and clinician adoption and accelerated redesign of care pathways to incorporate virtual modalities.
- Telehealth utilization has stabilized at levels 38X higher than before the pandemic. After an initial spike to more than 32 percent of office and outpatient visits occurring via telehealth in April 2020, utilization levels have largely stabilized, ranging from 13 to 17 percent across all specialties.2 This utilization reflects more than two-thirds of what we anticipated as visits that could be virtualized.3
- Similarly, consumer and provider attitudes toward telehealth have improved since the pre-COVID-19 era. Perceptions and usage have dropped slightly since the peak in spring 2020. Some barriers—such as perceptions of technology security—remain to be addressed to sustain consumer and provider virtual health adoption, and models are likely to evolve to optimize hybrid virtual and in-person care delivery.
- Some regulatory changes that facilitated expanded use of telehealth have been made permanent, for example, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ expansion of reimbursable telehealth codes for the 2021 physician fee schedule. But uncertainty still exists as to the fate of other services that may lose their waiver status when the public health emergency ends.
- Investment in virtual care and digital health more broadly has skyrocketed, fueling further innovation, with 3X the level of venture capitalist digital health investment in 2020 than it had in 2017.4
- Virtual healthcare models and business models are evolving and proliferating, moving from purely “virtual urgent care” to a range of services enabling longitudinal virtual care, integration of telehealth with other virtual health solutions, and hybrid virtual/in-person care models, with the potential to improve consumer experience/convenience, access, outcomes, and affordability.
Join CNET during CES 2021 for talks with three medical luminaries to discuss what we’ve gained — and need to fix — with telehealth over a turbulent pandemic year.
From 2019 to 2020, there was a substantial increase in the proportion of older adults who reported that their health care providers offered telehealth visits. In May 2019, 14% of older adults said that their health care providers offered telehealth visits, compared to 62% in June 2020.
Similarly, the percentage of older adults who had ever participated in a telehealth visit rose sharply from 4% in May 2019 to 30% in June 2020. Of those surveyed in 2020, 6% reported having a telehealth visit prior to March 2020, while 26% reported having a telehealth visit in the period from March to June 2020.
Over the past year, some concerns about telehealth visits decreased among adults age 50–80 whether or not they had a telehealth visit. Older adults’ concerns about privacy in telehealth visits decreased from 49% in May 2019 to 24% in June 2020, and concerns about having difficulty seeing or hearing health care providers in telehealth visits decreased from 39% in May 2019 to 25% in June 2020. Concerns about not feeling personally connected to the health care provider decreased slightly (49% to 45%).
Philips Virtual Care Station, inspired by the VA’s ATLAS program, is a community-based telehealth solution designed to expand access to high-quality care by connecting patients and providers remotely through a secure, clinical-grade environment.
Diagnostics World (June 30, 2020): The shift from face-to-face patient visits to remote medical appointments is a worldwide phenomenon, but most especially in the U.S., finds a recent global survey conducted by the doctors-only social networking platform Sermo. Unsurprisingly, Zoom tops the list of most-mentioned technologies. About one-fifth of surveyed doctors say they expect to be using telehealth tools “significantly” more post-pandemic than before COVID-19 upended business as usual.
H4D facilitates access to healthcare by allowing patients to consult a doctor remotely in the Consult Station®, the first connected local telemedicine booth. This medical device allows quality healthcare to be delivered for primary care, occupational health, and general health promotion.
From AMA.org (June 12, 2020):
“There’s an aging population, and there’s a lot of skin out there,” said Dr. Isaacs. “One in five people in the country develop skin cancer, but there is a plethora of benign skin conditions that also require the expertise of the dermatologist. So, you have increasing demand and a limited supply of dermatologists.”
A basic example of how the TPMG teledermatology program works involves a patient who is concerned about a suspicious lesion or mole on their body. The patient can take a picture of the location in question and send it to their primary care physician for review. The physician can request the patient come in for a more thorough evaluation, or if the physician determines that a dermatologist should be involved, they can send the photo to an on-call dermatologist to review.
If the patient does an in-person evaluation, the physician can also take a higher-quality image and forward that to a dermatologist. The dermatologist can then decide whether there is a problem, if a prescription is needed, or if there should be an in-person evaluation and potential biopsy.
A study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology in 2019 found that when TPMG dermatologists had the chance to look at well-photographed skin lesions, they were able to identify nearly 10% more cancers with almost 40% fewer referrals to the dermatology department.