There has been a surge in the adoption and implementation of telemedicine, especially with the coronavirus pandemic crisis. For this reason, the US Healthcare officials recently converged at the Becker’s Healthcare Telehealth Virtual Forum to address the challenges and opportunities in telehealth and virtual care. The following eight observations were reported.
- Organizations that had invested in telehealth confirmed that they were well equipped for more virtual services even though some of the systems still faced significant setbacks following the increasing demand
- Telemedicine has offered significant support to numerous US health systems, particularly during the pandemic. However, some of the significant challenges affecting them include lack of broadband internet access or video recording devices by patients.
- Telemedicine in the post-pandemic era will depend on factors such as government regulations and demand for such services. It is, however, unclear how it will incorporate into specialty care.
- Hospitals should invest in efficient and straightforward digital workflows for easy virtual operations. Besides, patient information should be readily available in the EHR once they are logged in for a virtual session.
- Artificial Intelligence has not been fully exploited in telemedicine, and there are innumerable possibilities of integrating it into healthcare.
- Consumer and payer demand will define the ultimate business model of telehealth after the pandemic. Patients will be provided with a range of payment options, while payers will have to integrate telehealth into their value-based care models. However, this changeover will pose a significant risk to the many providers still based on a fee-for-service environment.
- Challenges such as government regulations and healthcare systems are bound to affect the future of new virtual care and telehealth services. As such, providers will have to partner with vendors to ensure that the new implementations serve the patient population equally.
- Coronavirus has disrupted the training system for clinicians and patients on telehealth. However, healthcare systems need to advance their approaches and counter the massive demand for telehealth services in a limited time frame. Leaders proposed developing training materials in chapters that can be easily uploaded as platforms are subject to change.
With all these factors in mind, telemedicine will evolve because of virtual healthcare demand to continue to keep people safe.