The Post-Pandemic Future of Telehealth

September 1, 2022

Access to telehealth is rapidly increasing, and patients are becoming increasingly comfortable with virtual visits. Therefore, physicians are predicting that even when the pandemic ebbs away, the healthcare industry will not revert to the traditional approach of providing care services which mainly involves in-person sessions. So, if organizations and patients grow more accustomed to telemedicine services, what will the future look like post-pandemic? This guide explores the possibilities in detail.

Telehealth Post-Pandemic Future Guide

Big Data in Telehealth

With the rise of the pandemic, it has become more important than ever to focus on compiling and analyzing statistics and devising predictive and preventive care models. Big data analytics has demonstrated positive and life-saving benefits in healthcare and enabled care services to become patient-centric and cost-effective.

Hospitals and clinical practices are embracing digital transformation in providing value-based care. Some new nursing opportunities are out there focusing on data analysis and management, overseen by NIS (Nursing Information Specialist).

After earning their undergraduate degree in nursing, NIS professionals gain knowledge and skills in IT components on the job. The data gathered by these nurses contributes to more efficient administrative and medical processes in hospital settings. Furthermore, analytics can help develop more targeted telemedicine care based on demographics as big data aid in understanding the disease risks in different segments.

Remote Service Access

Another reason telehealth solution is here to stay post-pandemic is its proven ability to improve care access, especially for specific population segments such as older people with reduced mobility and people living in geographically isolated areas.

According to a research article published in MedicalNewsToday, remote preventive care services provide improved healthcare outcomes in patients with chronic heart diseases.

Additionally, the possibility of virtual visits by specialists and medicine professors extends the benefit to healthcare education, arising simultaneously with remote healthcare. The opportunity to learn remotely is especially ideal for providers already established in the field of medicine to advance in their careers.

Regulatory Changes

Some regulatory changes introduced during the rise of COVID-19 that enabled increased access to telehealth have been made permanent. For example, CMS allowed telehealth coverage for many current CPT (current procedural terminology) codes in the 2021 physician fee schedule final rule.

However, there were also some additional CPT codes, and CMS allowed telehealth coverage temporarily. Restrictions on these codes may return to post-Covid-19 normal once the public health emergency expires. Moreover, telehealth accessibility was made possible for Medicare beneficiaries outside rural areas from home, and its future is still unclear.

Investment Activity

Investment in telehealth continues to accelerate. According to Rock Health’s H1 2021 digital health funding report, the total venture capital investment in digital healthcare in the first six months of 2021 is valued at $14.7 billion, which is half of all the investment in 2020 and almost twice the investment in 2019.

Moreover, the total revenue of the top 60 telehealth vendors increased to $5.5 billion in 2020, which is almost double the previous year's revenue of $3 billion.

Limitations and Trade-offs

Even though telehealth is beneficial, it has its limitations, especially when it comes to long-term patient care and physical examination that clinicians require to conduct through virtual visits. Hence, the evaluations made during telehealth visits are highly patient-assisted and aided by digital health devices such as wearables to monitor blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen levels, weight, etc.

According to Thomas Caprio, Professor of Medicine and Geriatrics at the University of Rochester Medical Center, examining patients virtually has its trade-offs, for example, not being able to conduct an extensive examination. However, despite its limitations, Professor Caprio strongly supports telehealth and believes one should not replace the other completely. It should be used as a supplement option for in-person care. So, patients and providers can opt for a hybrid of these two approaches.

Bottom Line

Telehealth is a potential solution to address healthcare problems and has the potential to make care services accessible for everyone from the ease of their home. The benefits discussed in this guide hint that providers will continue to deliver virtual care services even when the pandemic ends. Additionally, it is a good option to slow the spread of contagious diseases like flu and cold.