The adoption of telehealth has increased significantly since the pandemic began. Covid-19 has made it more urgent and necessary for health providers and patients to use telehealth. All available evidence and data on telehealth, such as a survey on investor confidence, provider attitudes, consumer adoption, and preference, indicate that telehealth will be helpful for a long time to come. It might play a more significant role in the healthcare delivery system. However, it is unclear how the policymaker and payer will treat telehealth when covid-19 decreases.
These are the four questions that policymakers and payers are analyzing to evaluate the function that telehealth should perform. The answers to these questions could help them decide what services can be offered, under what circumstances, from what locations, by whom, and at what price.
1. Is telehealth comparable to in-person care?
This is one of the nagging questions that weigh heavily on the minds of payers, providers, patients, and policymakers. There are concerns that telemedicine delivery can produce gaps in antibiotic prescribing. There is also the problem of primary care that if it is done correctly, it can offer quality care and at the same time reduce costs down the road. Can telemedicine that does not focus on care continuity make sure that there are care continuity and better outcomes in the long run?
Several telehealth providers have been able to achieve care continuity. For example, PlushCare emphasizes building doctors and patients during the whole care journey to offer care continuity that stresses quality. Doctor-On-Demand allows patients to have return visits to the same provider. It has a multifaceted approach to ensuring clinical quality, such as continuous accountability, ongoing professional development, credentialing, and accreditation.
To ensure that patient outcomes are at the same level as traditional HealthcareHealthcare or better, it will be advisable for all telehealth companies to collect and invest in data. That requires buying technology that gathers data, buying quality-scoring frameworks, and buying quality-measurement studies that show that they offer quality care and monitor patient outcomes after some time.
2. Can Telemedicine make Healthcare more accessible to underprivileged individuals?
There is a common debate in the telehealth companies that boosting telemedicine options can help get access to communities that usually face challenges accessing health care. This sounds possible in theory, especially for people in remote areas where healthcare providers are few, but it is not valid in reality. This is because internet connectivity in those areas is a big problem that can inhibit the reach, impact, and telemedicine adoption.
Among the minority communities such as Hispanics and blacks, the problems are complex, such as logistical challenges, trust, cultural/language, and cost. Studies show that telemedicine is more successful among people with higher education, higher income, and urban consumers.
Telehealth providers have been trying to tailor their services to these communities. For example, He & Hers has been collaborating with partners to come up with solutions. It founded Telehealth Equity Coalition, which comprises organizations such as American Telehealth Association and National Health IT Collaborative. He & Hers also accept cash payments that are endearing to minority communities who cannot afford insurance. They charge $39 per visit.
3. Could overutilization in Healthcare occur due to increased use in Telemedicine?
Overutilization fears might continue to be in the center of telemedicine’s pursuit of better policy frameworks—the discussion about overutilization trumps quality. Money is usually the main factor that affects policy decision-making and technology adoption in HealthcareHealthcare. The Telehealth industry has the obligation of proving that it provides quality care at affordable rates.
4. Is there an increased risk of fraud due to the use of Telemedicine?
Billions of dollars have been lost through telehealth frauds. A few dishonest providers can ruin things for everyone. Considering that abuse and fraud problems happen across the healthcare industry, if the telehealth industry can answer the other questions and companies work more challenging to operate more transparently, it should give policymakers and payers confidence and trust.