The Rise of Virtual Care and Telehealth Solutions

April 28, 2020

Image by Georg Arthur Pflueger

Over the past decade, the use of telemedicine technology in U.S. hospitals has increased by 3.5%. The percent of hospitals leveraging this service has increased from 54.5% in 2014 to 61.3% in 2016, and it is expected that by the end of 2020, the global market for telemedicine will cross $34 billion. This growth is fueled in part by healthcare institutions who are in a unique position of wanting to provide medical care to more people while keeping costs and personnel in check. Rapid evolution of the telecommunication industry, expanded broadband capacity and innovative technologies have further led to greater acceptance among both patients and providers. This has led to more organizations adopting telehealth solutions as a viable alternative to routine in-office physician visits. 

Implementing telehealth not only helps physicians reach people in remote or rural areas who may not have access to a specific type of facility or specialist, but also helps makes the delivery of certain types of services more convenient and efficient, increases the quality of care and increases patient engagement. The use cases are multifold, such as:

  • Delivering health services through virtual visits

  • Sharing information with other providers or patients

  • Patient education and engagement

  • Remote monitoring

  • Training healthcare staff

 

Implementing a telehealth solution doesn’t come without its fair share of challenge. An often cited concern has been that virtual and telehealth services have not been reimbursed at the same rate as in-person visits and reimbursements tend to vary across payers making related financial strategies a challenge to manage. However this has been changing over the past few years and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has led to rapidly evolving reimbursement policies. With an ongoing shift toward value-based care, new payment models and reimbursement opportunities are becoming available that encourage the use of telehealth services in order to provide more high-value care to patients with chronic conditions as a way to improve health and lower costs.

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