The coronavirus pandemic was a huge wake-up call for the healthcare sector. It warranted questions about the conventional care model and necessitated the accelerated adoption of telehealth and remote patient monitoring solutions. Today, virtual care usage has skyrocketed to 38x more compared to pre-COVID times. But beyond increased implementation, post-COVID healthcare will also see new innovations and drifts take center stage in telehealth and RPM. With the advancement of technology, we’re bound to see new dimensions and improvements. So how will RPM and telehealth evolve in a post-COVID world? Let’s find out.
The Way Forward is Intelligent Assistance Diagnostics
Artificial intelligence has quite frankly become a buzzword across many industries. But in healthcare, AI is more than just fancy speculation and it’s helping unearth practical values as we speak.
At Aura Health Solutions, for example, intelligent models are an important component of our diagnostic system. Our technology taps into the power of AI to keep tabs on various insights as well as visualize trends and predict patient conditions.
Overall, deep learning and machine learning algorithms are improving telehealth and remote patient monitoring across various facets, including but not limited to:
- Patient risk identification
- Drug discovery
- Disease diagnosis
Intelligent diagnostic systems, compromising of software, device, and man, will be the new order of the day, fueled by the growing AI in healthcare market which is set to surpass $188 billion in value by 2030. This marks an astronomical growth given its $11 billion global market value in 2021.
An Even Stronger Focus on Patient Centricity
The coronavirus pandemic served up an important lesson in patient centricity. Sure, this was a priority for various facilities even before the virus, but the outbreak certainly increased the need for patient centricity, more so with healthcare decentralization taking root.
COVID-19 was the cascading point of rapid care delivery transformation. While its fallout remains far from full comprehension now, the pandemic proved a catalyst for even stronger reforms as far as patient centricity is concerned. Now there’s amplified adoption of connected care strategies that aggregate health data in real-time, allowing both physicians and patients to get a front-row seat to care.
Consequently, the use of medical wearables has become even more rampant with care providers adopting more personalized and intimate care strategies. Even digital natives are getting on the bandwagon, with the outbreak mandating the need for more off-site care delivery solutions. We need not look further than a Markets and Markets report for proof of this, with the research establishing a 13% CAGR for the global wearable medical devices market.
Telehealth as the Front Line of Chronic Care Management
The National Institute of Health finds that long-term illnesses are surging, with 133 million Americans suffering from a chronic ailment. Another report by George Washington University further estimates that we may notice a 37% increase in chronic illness cases by 2030.
With the rising rate of chronic diseases and telehealth now proven a viable care option, we could yet see it take on increasing roles, particularly in chronic care management or CCM. It could help solve some conventional challenges of CCM, such as:
- Patients not refilling repeat prescriptions
- Individuals skimping on appointments or follow-up
- Patients not sticking to a treatment routine
- Individuals failing to report adverse events or symptoms
Telehealth’s intervention with CCM is predicted to save healthcare systems billions annually, and the convenience it affords in terms of reduced wait time and better engagement will see it elevated as the new way to execute chronic care management.
RPM & Virtual Care in the Palm of Our Hands
COVID-19 was also a light bulb moment for mobile health solutions, better known as mHealth. While there was no reinventing the wheel here, it redirected serious thought into how mHealth can offer a complete monitoring solution on its own from start to finish rather than just serving complementary roles.
The popularity of virtual care and RPM dispensation through mobile platforms has also grown, and by no coincidence at that, given that more people are gaining access to smartphones, more so across rural regions. It is estimated today that there are 6.8 billion smartphone users worldwide in 2023, representing about 85% of the global population.
So what are the goals of mHealth, more so when it comes to virtual care and remote patient monitoring? Here are some top objectives:
- Improving patient education and awareness
- Enabling self-management
- Expanding access to medical resources
- Promoting positive health patterns
In foresight, mHealth will also pave the way for a new healthcare work model, where physicians can provide care on the go, with patients also able to initiate self-care. The result will be enormous cost-saving benefits for healthcare systems.
Insurance Companies Opening up to RPM and Telehealth
Is telehealth covered by insurance? Not entirely, but yes. This certainly wasn’t the case a couple of years back when RPM and telehealth were largely viewed by insurance companies as alternative care solutions.
Today, remote patient monitoring and telemedicine have become mainstream care options. So much so that the lion’s share of insurance providers are providing coverage. Others do so in its entirety, but at the very least, the majority cover at least a couple of aspects of RPM.
For example, Medicare has over the years changed its stance on telehealth coverage. Presently, they carter for:
- Mental health management with telehealth
- Virtual visits and more
Across the US, telehealth insurance policies vary from state to state, but it is the case that they offer reimbursements for at least some portion of out-of-pocket expenses. Moving forward, we’re bound to see more favorable insurance policies by both governments and private insurers, as telehealth and virtual care solutions become the new staple of the healthcare industry.
The Future of RPM & Telehealth Remains Positive
Experts estimate RPM usage will hit 60.6 million by the close of 2024. It is the cresting wave of the future, with the launch pad no doubt being the COVID-19 outbreak. While the pandemic did popularize RPM and telehealth as a way of contactless care delivery, these two technologies are now here to stay and serve increasingly stacking objectives. These innovations are now shaking healthcare to its core, proving the cornerstone of more efficient, positive, and patient-centric health systems. It’s only bound to leap from strength to strength with Industry 4.0 on the horizon.