No doubt that during the pandemic in 2020 telehealth (or telemedicine) had a major boom, as people looked for remote health support. The race to lock down that struck many countries globally during that year was a major factor in the growth of this service.
Yet, now that we’re in a panorama of a little more freedom for companies, is it time for telehealth to reinvent itself?
The BOOM of telehealth back in 2020
It’s a no-brainer that telehealth would be a sought-after model of contact during a period of global lockdown. Everybody had to stay at home and the only alternative to this had to be remote.
During this time, the use of remote live and interactive communications was normalized. Usually, it would be in the form of an online video chat between a healthcare provider and a patient. Without a doubt, there are a lot of advantages to this model of communication. The more remarkable is the fact that each part can communicate without any reaction.
In some cases, medical professionals could make a diagnosis, complete an exam and write and send a prescription to a patient. When it came to chronic and ongoing conditions, telehealth hit the spot for many patients. Some insurance companies had these styles of appointments covered.
Alas, with the situation returning (slightly) to normal after the vaccine distribution, this pharma trend is declining after a huge boom.
Is telehealth declining in 2022?
According to Fair Health, in the US, there was a boom in telehealth in April 2020. It began to fall the following month. It registered growth in October 2020, when the cold and the holiday season led to more people staying home.
The following year, the trend was a little different. In January 2021, the availability of vaccines and the growth of immunity in the general population were widespread. Once again, there was a decrease in the popularity of telehealth for a while. After a low percentage of usage in July of 2021, in came the delta variant along with a couple of vaccine hesitancy. The result? Telehealth usage rose again in August and September by about 2% each month. Eventually, it would fall into decay yet again as soon as October arrived.
Based on this tendency, it seems that many regard telehealth as an alternative during the bigger outbreaks of COVID-19. During the peaks of the pandemic, it’s evident that remoteness was the way to go for many people. Yet, it seems that many professionals in healthcare are still trying to discover where telehealth fits in the full picture.
During these lower periods, the uses for telehealth also changed in a remarkable way. According to Healthcaredrive, many of the calls for telehealth had a heavy focus on mental health issues in the U.S.
There are some possibilities to be explored in this new style of communication between HCP and patients. But it seems that to make telehealth work in a post-pandemic world, some adjustments are needed.
Mixing offline and online
Many companies can provide healthcare services through the use of a hybrid model. It’s a huge possibility to combine the best of online and offline models in a way that benefits both patients and medical professionals.
We can see that there are new models rising when it comes to at-home services in many sectors. As far as health services are concerned, we can highlight the amount of at-home testing for COVID-19, provided by many companies. From the comfort of your own house, you can test for elements such as fertility, kidney disease, and urinary infections. There are also devices such as smart thermometers, mats for detecting diabetic foot complications, and pulse oximeters. These modern gadgets are a huge help for patients (and doctors for that matter) to keep track of one’s health.
There is also an increase in software and/or apps to help improve the patient journey as well as their communication with their doctors. For example, Ro, a telehealth startup, has created a service that provides patients with essential services in minutes. They connect the users with physicians, nurses, or pharmacists regardless of the location of the person.
More and more companies are embracing the possibility of delivering medication at home. Others are also providing pricing for products and services, helping to schedule lab testing in-home and nurse visits.
In short: It’s all a matter of adaptation to telemedicine
The real issue here has to do with the fact that many companies are only turning to telehealth in periods of turmoil. As soon as the situation normalizes many of them still tend to leave telehealth aside. Both medical professionals and patients can be educated on the benefits that telemedicine can bring.
Without a doubt, there’s no replacement for human touch or contact. In that regard, many telehealth possibilities will work, so long as there’s an established clinical-provider relationship. Without a doubt, some people will still prefer to pay a visit to the doctor’s office. Yet there’s a new type of patient who will be able to adjust to a hybrid-style system.
Many benefits were recognized in telehealth such as:
- The cost savings in both time and money;
- More easy access to healthcare regardless of the location of the patient; and
- A wider possibility for patient engagement.
We’d like to underline the last point as being a great factor to explore other possibilities in telehealth. When it comes to clarifying many patients’ doubts about a certain chronic condition there are a lot of ways to engage with them. Medical professionals can use new technologies to send interesting content to each of their patients on their illnesses. It will not only tranquilize them but also let them in on some main facts about their condition.
There are a lot of models for online content that many companies are exploring to capture patients’ attention. Telehealth, if done right, might stop being a resource and start to become the norm.