This past year may very well have been the year the “new normal” was sealed for healthcare – one that includes a lot more telehealth, remote monitoring and other virtual care than ever before. Technology has became culturally accepted as an integral part of the patient experience as telemedicine gained popularity.
As healthcare providers look ahead to 2023, being at the forefront of what’s next in telehealth and strategically integrating the technology necessary to stay there may be critical to future success.
Trapollo, a Cox Business company that specializes in telemedicine and RPM technologies and services, has many insights into why healthcare provider organizations should prioritize telemedicine offerings and advancements to meet patients where they are and stay ahead of the competition.
We interviewed George Valentine, associate vice president, new growth and development, at Trapollo, to discuss three trends he sees along these lines becoming very important in 2023.
Q. You have identified three trends in telemedicine for 2023. The first is that virtual care has staying power, regarding its ability to keep the momentum it built during the pandemic going. Please elaborate.
A. As a result of the pandemic, telehealth went from underused to the preferred way to receive care by many patients seemingly overnight. The convenience and comfort telehealth delivers for managing non-urgent, routine care for mental health, chronic disease or pain is too good to revert to always in-person appointments.
Further, telehealth services are becoming more accessible, which is driving greater adoption. For example, the U.S. government passed the Advancing Telehealth Beyond COVID-19 Act of 2022, which allows Medicare patients access to telehealth services, including audio-only services, through 2024.
The bill expands the ability for beneficiaries to receive telehealth services of any type and at any site, including their homes. It also improves flexibility, collaboration and the overall appointment experience for patients and medical professionals alike, demonstrating the importance of this innovation in the healthcare industry.
But telehealth is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to healthcare’s digital transformation. The patient experience in its entirety is becoming more digital-forward. Hospitals, for example, are implementing ways to digitally empower patients through technology like wayfinding, personalized alerts and providing patients the ability to schedule appointments, access to medical records, patient education, physician directories and more online through easy-to-use apps.
Q. The second trend you see is that telehealth will be key to market positioning. What exactly do you mean by this?
A. With the adoption of telehealth comes increased competition. Prior to the telehealth boom, health systems were primarily up against local competitors for market share. Now, in the age of online medicine and distributed care, every system is in direct competition with retail clinics, large technology firms, digital health startups and payers.
As true in other facets of their lives, patients want the ease and on-demand connection digitizing care provides. And it’s not simply about virtual appointments, many patients want greater visibility and access to their whole health history online. If you’re not offering this to your patients, they will likely find a provider that can.
Q. And the third 2023 trend you suggest is that telemedicine is more than just a check-up. The industry has been seeing a lot of activity in specialties. What do you see?
A. Telehealth is expanding in ways patients and healthcare professionals would have never considered before. From remote patient monitoring before and after chemotherapy to diabetes management and Alzheimer’s support, telehealth is making an impact. It has also been a tremendous asset for patients and providers in rural areas where there is often limited healthcare personnel availability.
Although the need to see a practitioner in the office is still a necessity for some conditions and emergency situations, telehealth continues to bridge the gap between patient and provider, creating a new avenue to experience better, more personalized care from any location.