The telehealth industry is many years old and has experienced tremendous growth over the last decade. Telehealth became even more vital after the COVID-19 pandemic forced brick-and-mortar clinics and health centers to close in the wake of lockdowns and a fast-spreading virus. Since the first waves of attack, doctors and healthcare facilities needed ways to invest in telehealth.

Key Stats about Telehealth

The American Medical Association reported a 53% increase in telemedicine insurance claims between 2016 and 2017. A recent study by McKinsey & Company also published that up to $250 billion of the money spent in healthcare in the USA can be virtualized. What’s more, hospitals are increasingly using video and remote technologies to conduct doctor-patient visits, and the future of telehealth seems guaranteed.

What It Means For Entrepreneurs

If all the indications and projections are accurate, entrepreneurs have an excellent chance of taking part in the medical industry in various ways. One immediate way entrepreneurs can overhaul the telehealth industry is through digital solutions. Telemedicine is driven by the digital transformation of the traditional hospital model. Entrepreneurs can bring efficiency, reliability, organization, convenience, and security to the medicine industry by providing software and hardware.

The impacts of technology are already being felt as entrepreneurs identify new healthcare faucets. The market already has heart rate monitoring watches, apps, and healthcare products, such as research kits, health kits, and care kits. However, there’s still massive potential for introducing new products and applications. Telehealth relies on efficient communication, flexibility, and a wide range of digital products. With increasing customer acceptance, the market is poised for tremendous growth and demand for solutions.

Navigating the Post-Pandemic Industry

Entrepreneurs have opportunities coming from all directions. Many healthcare practices involve face-to-face appointments, and virtualization will require different solutions. Many hospitals have already adopted telehealth, and practitioners are taking compensation for virtual consultations, so the industry is due for an overhaul. For entrepreneurs, the challenge is to identify what’s on-demand, analyze emerging opportunities and forecast the future of telehealth.

Telemedicine (TM) recently became necessary when the COVID-19 pandemic forced the closure of most brick-and-mortar operations. Since the first wave, remote communications have become the substitute for face-to-face visits, with TM vital in modern healthcare delivery. Here’s an overview of the future of telehealth for hematology and oncology care.

Telemedicine Virtual Visit Compensation

Lack of proper compensation has been the leading barrier to the widespread implementation of telemedicine. However, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) mandated financial parity of virtual and face-to-face visits, an excellent incentive for oncologists and hematologists to invest in telehealth services for their patients. With the barrier gone, Telemedicine is set to become the mainstream option for doctor-patient visits.

Demand for Hematology-Oncology Services

The number of diagnosed cancer cases has been increasing but so has the number of cancer survivors. ASCO projects a 40% increase in demand for cancer care services by 2026. Unfortunately, statistics indicate fewer oncologists each year, meaning the increased demand is poised to coincide with a shortage. As ASCO projects, there’ll be a shortage of at least 2,200 oncologists by 2026.

TM offers a feasible solution for optimizing oncology care, as it eliminates the need for face-to-face visits. Doctors can schedule more flexible and manageable appointments remotely via phone calls and internet technologies like web conferencing. As it stands, the increased demand for cancer care and shortage of practitioners will work in favor of telemedicine.

A Virtual Future for Oncologists/Hematologists

Oncology and hematology centers are located close to state lines, which has been great for the implementation of telehealth. TM video and telephone visits are already taking place in many areas, and its future in oncology and hematology care is almost inevitable, given the growing focus on convenience.

Telemedicine saves patients the burden of commuting to brick-and-mortar offices and centers. It also makes it easier to receive alternative opinions without leaving home. All current developments point to future hematology and oncology care heavily reliant on telemedicine. However, some oncologists say it’s still too early to project the role of telehealth.

Some would say it’s long overdue, but finally, it has come to pass. On June 24, 2021, Phil Murphy, the Governor of New Jersey, signed into law legislation that allows healthcare workers to authorize the use of marijuana for medical use via telehealth/telemedicine.


A press release indicated that Sen. O’Scanlon Declan and state assemblywomen Joann Downey and Pamela Lampitt sponsored the bill.


This new law allows licensed healthcare providers to authorize medical marijuana on qualified patients through telehealth or telemedicine. However, it is a requirement that telemedicine/telehealth must abide by the standard care required by in-person treatment and assessment.


After a patient is authorized to use medical marijuana, the healthcare provider can decide whether to continue the authorization via telehealth/telemedicine or invite the patient for a face-to-face (in-person) consultation.
According to medical experts, most marijuana patients have mobility problems that make it impossible for them to visit doctors’ offices as frequently as is desired. For this reason, they are left with no option but to rely on telemedicine/telehealth.


The medical experts emphasize that the anxiety reduction, nausea prevention, muscle relaxation, and pain-relief properties of medical marijuana can’t be ignored because they are necessary for patients suffering from acute or severe medical conditions.


Since the coronavirus pandemic outbreak, insurers and the federal government have supported virtual visits and have endorsed them for many therapies, including medical marijuana. That explains why over 24 states have temporarily permitted the prescription of medical marijuana via telemedicine. This has boosted the number of patients seeking medical assistance but cannot attend physical sessions. Many health workers and patients are now calling upon the authorities to make this model permanent.


According to two medical experts, Downey and Lampitt, this new law is so much welcome because it will leverage technology to make it easy for people to access medical treatment at reduced costs.


Digital authorization is the best way to enable doctors to provide cannabis patients with medication because most of these patients are certified homebound or developmentally disabled.


Some states considering expanding or enacting medical marijuana access include Alabama, Nebraska, Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Georgia, Utah, and Virginia.

Over the years, telemedicine is expanding in the USA and has a positive impact on HIV care. It results in reduced transmission rates and increased patient/provider satisfaction.


In retrospective research, the Open Forum Infectious Diseases found telemedicine visits to be equally beneficial as in-person visits for suppressing and managing viral load in individuals with HIV.


Researchers looked at the records of both groups of patients between May 2017 and April 2018. They found that a telemedicine group fared better than an in-person care group.


Telemedicine consultations can have many benefits. You don’t need to travel in person for these visits, which means you can save time and effort on your commute. There’s also the added benefit of having something like streaming video to keep you updated throughout consultations.


There are many other factors to consider when deciding on a location’s suitability for HIV patients. The study’s findings were that HIV patients who are rural-based have worse prognoses than those who reside in an urban area.
A study published in the American Journal of Family Medicine found that telemedicine for HIV patients in rural Georgia yielded comparable results as in-person care.


To reach their goals for the study, the researchers tested a treatment called anti-viral treatment on everyone in the study group. The objective was to make sure that there was no negative correlation between the efficacy of this treatment and the age, race, and gender characteristics of participants.


82% of patients in the telemedicine group and 50% in the in-person group had a CD4 count greater than or equal to 643 cells/mm3. The results were all statistically significant.


The study compared treatment outcomes for patients in two groups-those who received traditional face-to-face therapy and those who used a video conferencing platform. Although the group that used computer-based methods showed reduced improvement at first, this difference disappeared over time.


The research offers hope that telemedicine could seem like the solution for those rural areas with the highest level of access to care issues.


Telemedicine is a helpful resource for the long-term management of chronic diseases such as HIV in locations without local physicians.

The covid-19 pandemic has had an impact on every aspect of human life. Due to the travel and interaction challenges posed by the pandemic, telehealth has become more of a necessity than an option. However, with the vaccine outcomes, there is a possibility of humans bidding goodbye to the illness. The question now is how the future looks like for this critical service post the pandemic.

The American Medical Association seems confident that telehealth will remain a critical part of health services even after the pandemic eases. During the pandemic, 50% of healthcare providers offered telehealth services. Even after the pandemic, these institutions will still consider virtual health care alternatives for their patients. Nonetheless, the choice of service will depend on the ailment and the patient’s condition.

Advantages of Telehealth

Telehealth services have no limitations of space. Traditional medical care practice requires a lot of room for patients, doctors, members of staff, and equipment.

It also happens that patients and healthcare practitioners must be at the same place at the same time. This is, however, different from telehealth as it breaks barriers of geographical locations.

In most parts of the country, health care institutions enjoy the benefits of telehealth as it reduces overcrowding in hospitals. Space in health facilities has been a critical factor during the pandemic. A hybrid model made up of both in-person and telemedicine works perfectly when put when adequately strategized.

Remote Care Technology provides Patients with healthcare alternatives. The healthcare arena has shifted with advancements in technology. Healthcare providers have tight schedules with patients located in different parts of the country. However, the pandemic has opened up and pushed for the adoption of new technologies that were overlooked in the past. The same changes apply to the modes of payment, policies, and procedures.

With the expansion of telehealth, healthcare systems can now work with limited budgets while attending to a broader clientele. They are, therefore, able to offer even more affordable consultation services to their patients comfortably. Additionally, the services provided by telehealth are of the same quality as those of in-person.
Challenges

Compliance with the policies and procedures is a significant factor in the provision of virtual healthcare services. More patient data is collected and stored by health care providers. There is also a need for proper management and oversight.

Fortunately, the United States Department of Health and Human Services suspended imposition of penalties to institutions that didn’t comply with HIPAA Rules during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, this suspension will not last long. With the return of normalcy, these regulations are going to take full effect.
Post-pandemic expected changes

Experts predict telehealth services will advance, taking a new shift post-pandemic with much better hybrid services and platforms. One positive impact of the crisis on healthcare systems was that it broke down barriers through technology and opened new opportunities.

A study conducted by Chia-Chun Chiang, MD, and colleagues shows that telemedicine has enabled care for many patients with headaches during the COVID-19 period. Since March 2020, many health care organizations in the US have canceled optional, nonurgent procedures and clinics in reaction to the COVID-19 emergency. Telemedicine was fast adopted and has now developed into an essential healthcare tool. It reduces the physical and geographic barriers, prevents the spread of the virus, and saves personal protective equipment.
The researchers did an online survey to assess the patients’ perspectives regarding headache care using telemedicine throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and the desire of patients to continue using telemedicine even after the pandemic ends. The survey had 1172 respondents with a mean age of 45.9 years. Most of the respondents (86.8%) were women.
The survey participants were asked if they utilized telemedicine appointments for their headache problems during the COVID-19 global pandemic. Most patients (57.5%) said yes, while the rest said no. Among those who said no, 56.1% said they did not have a reason for telemedicine visits, while 25.2% reported they did not know about the option. 85.5% of those who said yes used telemedicine for follow-up headache care. The results of the survey exhibited that patients were satisfied with the use of telemedicine for headache treatment. 62.1% reported their experience as very good, and 20.7% said it is good.
The results show that telemedicine offers patients a chance to better control their headache problems without the need to travel and expose themselves to the risk of getting COVID-19.
The researchers also noted various barriers to care that manifested in the study results. Respondents who did not use telemedicine mentioned different reasons, including not being aware of the telemedicine option, utilizing telemedicine but not being provided with the opportunity by their healthcare provider, telemedicine not being covered by insurance, and not having the required technology to connect with providers.
Chiang highlighted various steps to address these challenges. These steps include expanding insurance coverage for telemedicine even after the end of the pandemic and promoting telemedicine so that patients can know it is an available option to them. She also stated that telemedicine is restrained to patients with a reliable internet connection and that internet access is necessary while working to enhance telemedicine headache care.

Covid-19 has profoundly changed our lives. The thought that the person next to you can potentially affect you has exponentially increased everyone’s anxiety, thus affecting how people work and interact with each other. This has, however, become a severe challenge when it comes to persons experiencing homelessness. —who basically can’t survive without sharing some facilities such as bathing and ablutions.


Because of their increased risk of contracting and spreading the virus, local officials, health care providers, and other service providers have prioritized their care. For impactful and efficient care to this vulnerable group, health care experts have opted to leverage the power of technology. They are now using Telemedicine in providing much-needed help to homeless people.


Telemedicine is currently playing a significant role in providing patients with a convenient and cheap method of consulting clinicians. One most basic form of Telemedicine is telephone communication. This approach has made it easy to deliver much-needed quality health care to vulnerable patients virtually. Telemedicine is a more advanced form of video conferencing, which allows for real-time encounters and viewing of images and patient documents simultaneously.


Years ago, Telemedicine could not be practical for the homeless. However, things have changed, and technology is now accessible to almost everyone. Through the help of various organizations, Telemedicine has made it easier for the homeless to receive better health care. In a partnership announced last year, veterans dealing with homelessness were given the privilege of consulting with caseworkers through telehealth kiosks.


Generally, the homeless community has always had it rough accessing health care services, particularly specialty care such as otolaryngology. Here’s what a Chicago-based otolaryngologist had to say.


“I worked as an otolaryngologist at the Chicago Franciscan Outreach shelter for three years. Unfortunately, we only made it there a few days a month to help patients with tonsillitis, sinusitis, hearing loss, ear infections, and thyroid disorders. As such, our impact was limited. The onset of Covid-19 further paralyzed our services, forcing us to prioritize routine screenings.


To help solve the health care crisis within the homeless community, we have decided to partner with Rush University Medical Center and local homeless advocates to launch a virtual care program. Our primary focus is to provide otolaryngology care. The lost will have their ear, nose, and throat issues virtually addressed by a physician from a kiosk. Once in a while, they will get the opportunity for an in-person visit.


From my experience working with underserved communities, the best way to serve the homeless is to bring care to their doorstep. Besides making it easily accessible, it goes a long way in helping them save on the little money they have.


Combining Telemedicine and in-person visits are not limited to only delivering otolaryngology care. The same can be applied to other specialties in medicine across the United States to improve access to health care, cut down the costs involved, reduce the time wasted in delivering services face to face, and effectively care for the people struggling with homelessness.”

Here is no doubt that the ongoing COVID19 pandemic has had an impact on our way of life. Doctor and medical appointments are among the typical routines that have been disrupted and gave way to telemedicine. According to Colleen McCormick, the director of sustainability at UC Davis, the popularity and use of telemedicine have grown up to 3000% since the pandemic hit, which has suggested it might be the best way to handle climate change. Let’s try and dissect Miss McCormick’s statement and see how it might help climate change.

For starters, the number of patients’ visits to hospitals in 2019 was 122 million. This number includes both light and life-threatening health conditions. It also takes into account the dentist appointments. 2019 registered the highest number of hospital visits in the 2010s decade.

Due to social distancing and ‘stay at home’ initiatives to reduce the spread of the deadly coronavirus, the number of hospital visits has significantly dropped by 32%. The figure has remained constant for the non-COVID hospital admissions.

The reduced number of hospital visits and the inclusion of telemedicine has eliminated a need to drive to and from the hospital, according to Peter Yellowless of UC Davis, which has contributed to a 10% reduction in carbon emission. That’s a lot of carbon emission reduction, where the US healthcare systems are among the most pollutant sectors worldwide.

Given the advancements made in the technology sectors and the willingness of the healthcare sectors to adopt these technologies, it has resulted in telemedicine aiding in the following ways:

  • Non-physical follow-up appointments
  • basic consultations
  • improving comfort and convenience of patients and doctors through virtual visits
  • helped to keep people safe in their homes, hence curbing the spread of COVID19

Other than reducing carbon emission through reduced driving, patients can save money, with millions of dollars that would have been spent on fuel since the pandemic started being saved or included in other expenditures.

The only hope is for healthcare facilities and patients to keep using telemedicine post-pandemic to keep the current changes permanent and improve.

Routinely, Veterans have been making regular visits to their doctors either for yearly exams, follow-up visits, treatment of chronic illnesses, getting test results, or trips to the urgent care for sudden illnesses or injuries. Even though Veterans being able to go to the doctor by themselves has been seen as a beneficial thing, it turns out that telehealth could be exponentially better. Allowing our Veterans the ability to connect with their VA care team from their home, clinic or hospital provides additional benefits that were only dreamt of.

1. Quality of life

Allowing Veterans the ability to visit their doctor from the comfort of their own home is a highly beneficial thing for any individual. Whether they want to save money on gas, don’t have a mode of transportation, or have a lot of medical equipment needed to travel with them, having the ability to communicate with their doctors from home creates more solutions than thought possible. Those that have argued the trip to see their doctor simply for test results was a waste of time, money, and gas.

2. Safety

As most of our Veterans are aging, their needs increase for supported transportation. Some individuals may have to have another person drive them, or they need to use the city bus; however, not every Veteran has these alternative modes of transportation. If their vision is failing, but no one has the ability to drive with them to the appointment, that individual may have to drive. This causes a clear safety issue not only for the Veteran but for the other people on the roads.

3. Comfort and Privacy

It is commonly seen as embarrassing to go see your doctor when you have a mental health illness suddenly strike. Being able to see your doctor for any mental health illnesses from your home provides the protection and seclusion that many people are needing when they have issues arise. Not only this, but it will make patients experiencing severe psychotic episodes the ability to see a provider immediately instead of having to travel somewhere and wait in the reception hall. Not only this, but Veterans have access to real-time, interactive video visits with therapists.

As you can clearly see, telehealth has provided Veterans phenomenal opportunities to receive the same quality of care they have now in their own home. This it allows for the ability for Veterans to join more group visits for mental health care, nutrition education, rehabilitation, and general health education. This allows more people the option to reduce potential social isolation.

For more information visit Ourdoctor.com to sign up and schedule your first telehealth visit. 

The pandemic has created a society of video chats for the main source of communication, and some workers in the mental health industry are certain this culture is here to stay. Due to hospitals only being able to accept emergency cases, close to 100% of mental health care became remote during the height of the pandemic, according to the director of ambulatory services at Ohio State Harding Hospital.


What this means for the future is that patients will be able to decide whether they would prefer in-patient consults or to receive them via telehealth. With the technology available today, patients have experienced the same level of care that they would have received as an in-patient.


Even the previous intensive outpatient program, a strict three to the four-week program at Ohio State Harding Hospital, now gets held over Zoom. Potentially there could even be a future for telemedicine due to the massive success of telehealth in the last year.


When the pandemic started, patients were wary of using telehealth services for physical conditions, and most telehealth patients made use of the services. This was illustrated in a recent study from mid-March to early May 2020 published by RAND Corp, where 53.6% opted for treatment via telehealth compared to the 43.2% of patients with a physical condition using telehealth during that same timespan.


Telehealth services have also increased the rates of patients keeping their appointments as they are easier to attend due to the flexibility of attending the meetings, however like all things, there are a couple of downfalls to the program as not all age groups fall into the demographic of being able to use Video Chats and body language has also been raised as a concern when consulting over a call instead of in person. Reliable internet and having the privacy to talk openly are also issues raised when needing to use telehealth services instead of an in-person consultation.


As the world slowly starts to go back to normal and in-patient consultations have started up again, telehealth services have proven to be a crucial and needed solution for the future. Most medical institutes will offer a range of both to allow the patient to choose what suits them best.

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