The Coronavirus pandemic blew through the healthcare industry like an unpredicted hurricane on a sleepy town. Amid the raging storm, telehealth proved to be the plank in the shipwreck that would lead us to shore. At a time when patient interactions couldn’t happen in person, telehealth helped us weather the storm and get to the light at the end of the tunnel. But now that the storm of the pandemic has passed, where does telehealth go from here? Well, the pandemic was nothing but just the beginning of remote healthcare. In this article, we cast our gaze ahead as we try to map out the course for the future of telehealth and remote care.
Legislative Doors Opening To Accommodate Remote Care
Telehealth is widespread today. The pandemic sure had a powerful role to play in swinging those doors ajar. But before that, that wasn’t always the case. As a matter of fact, 9 countries (Including the US) had strict, and honestly restrictive, stipulations on how it was to used. It was only to be applied when the patient was also present in person, hence beating the purpose of the technology anyway.
Fast track to the post-pandemic era, and all that has changed as governments began to fully appreciate and embrace telehealth. After proving a lifesaver during the coronavirus crisis, here are some ways that countries and governments are supporting telemedicine:
- More favorable legislation and policies around telehealth
- Providing reimbursements to care facilities that use telemedicine
- Healthcare campaigns raising awareness for telemedicine among the general populace
The pandemic created a soaring demand for remote healthcare. That demand has persisted due to shifting patient preferences and its cost-saving impacts. Telehealth is proving especially useful in managing chronic diseases, which is an aspect of care that accounts for 90% of total care expenditure in the US.
In a nutshell, this means that the future of remote healthcare is heading in a direction that could see a lot more positive governmental involvement- in terms of creating policies to promote telehealth- going forward. This will result in the adoption of telehealth services alongside mainstream national insurance programs, with the private sector also making huge strides to follow suit and incorporate telehealth into their plan designs.
Channeling of Remote Healthcare Into Wellness (RTM)
You may be familiar with the use of telehealth for traditional medical interventions. For example, using remote technologies to manage high-risk or chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, kidney illnesses, and so on.
However, we’re now seeing a gravitation toward the use of remote healthcare for acute cases- e.g. addressing minor problems such as headaches or diarrhea- and mental wellness as well.
As far as mental wellness is concerned, this relatively new use case of telehealth has led to the creation of a new subset of remote patient monitoring (RPM) known as remote therapeutic monitoring (RTM). Through the observance of respiratory and musculoskeletal systems, as well as non-physiological data, physicians such as therapists may use RTM to understand patient behavior and provide therapeutic medications and interventions.
Beyond that, telehealth is also becoming a favored option for patients with certain wellness goals such as quitting ill habits such as smoking/drinking or losing weight. The immense value that we continue to get from telehealth proves that it is more just a pandemic trend, that’s for sure. It also indicates that we should expect to see even more use cases of telehealth beyond what we’d expect from traditional healthcare services.
Remote Healthcare Across Common Social Media Channels
HIPAA has traditionally enforced strict requirements over the videoconferencing channels that physicians may use to interact with patients for telehealth programs. The wake-up call that was the pandemic necessitated the CDC and US lawmakers to loosen HIPAA to ease regulations.
Now, the bar has lowered in terms of HIPPA-compliant telemedicine software. Beyond mainstream compliant telehealth apps such as the one we provide here at Aura Health Solutions, we are noticing the granting of permission to applications that don’t necessarily meet HIPAA rules for security and privacy, e.g.:
- Facebook Messenger videos
- Skype for Business and so on.
While some social apps like WhatsApp currently don’t qualify, we’re slowly inching toward a future where regulations will continue to ease. The day will come when even more common social media apps such as the aforementioned are permitted for use in telemedicine by HIPAA and other laws/acts across various other countries.
More Inclusivity In Telehealth
When telehealth first started pre-pandemic, it was mostly envisioned as a tool to combat accessibility issues in healthcare, more so for patients in rural areas. Thus, the US government enforced Medicare eligibility criteria that require telehealth to be used just for rural patients, otherwise, it won’t qualify for coverage.
That has all changed in the years since the pandemic. The importance of telehealth and remote care not just for those who live in rural areas but even “urbanites” as well has become clear to the government. With telehealth proving a key asset in reducing the healthcare spending burden- reports show it reduces healthcare spending by up to 20% on average, Medicare has opened telehealth eligibility to patients who live in both rural and urban areas too.
But it’s not just about the government’s new stance. It’s also a matter of preference. Data we’ve recently obtained indicates that 5 in 10 patients prefer telehealth, and a similar number of patients would ditch a provider who doesn’t provide telehealth. That means that the usage of telehealth will continue increasing, and your patients will expect remote healthcare among the very basics of your healthcare services.
Brace For The Future Of Remote Healthcare With Aura!
If there’s one thing the pandemic taught us is that remote healthcare is highly beneficial in several regards compared to legacy care systems and it’s therefore here to stay. With the virus disrupting in-person medical interventions, this led to the switch to a more effective and safer solution. Hospitals and governments have had the chance to test drive telehealth, and it’s largely viewed as the way forward for healthcare the world over. Don’t get left behind. Future-proof your clinical workflow by turning to Aura Health Solutions for your advanced remote patient monitoring needs.