As I reflect back on 2020, it is extremely easy to lament all of things that went sideways, all the missed opportunities and all that we weren’t able to do because the world was in the grip of a deadly pandemic.
A better choice would be to reflect on the resiliency of the human spirit, the ingenuity of the workforce and the absolute resolve of healthcare workers around the world. We are living in a time of great innovation, and the delivery of healthcare during the worldwide crisis is truly one of the most extraordinary things that I have witnessed this year.
Telehealth has exploded beyond anyone’s expectations because it afforded a vehicle for patients to receive care from wherever they were. It helped keep our most vulnerable safe and healthy. It allowed for delivery of care to continue when everything was shutting down. The ability to utilize technology in such an innovative and much needed way makes me excited for the future of telemedicine.
As the pandemic rolls on, and more cities lock down again, the need for telemedicine, and particularly telemental health, will continue to rise. 63% of 1000 people surveyed reported that as the year wore on their depression or anxiety became “worse” or “much worse,” according to eMarketer. Thankfully, telemental health services have continued to grow. Talkspace, an app for mental health, more than doubled this year. Investors are stepping up and funding digital mental health startups pouring more than $558 million into the space in the first half of 2020.
This trend of investing in digital mental health startups is expected to continue in 2021 with a particular focus on those providing services to Millennials and Gen Zers. According to the September 2020 Consumer Telehealth survey conducted by HIMSS, both Millennials and Gen Zers are willing to pay more for the convenience that telehealth provides along with easy accessibility.
With Amazon poised to move into the public market with its Amazon Care offering, the world of telehealth could see a huge disruption. Today, Amazon Care is only offered to Amazon employees throughout Washington State, however the tech giant has been working on scaling the care offering and may be looking to move into the public market soon. Amazon has more than 118 million Prime members and is aggressively pursuing how to deliver more than packages; they want to disrupt healthcare. We don’t know how long it will take, but keep an eye on the eCommerce giant as they work through how to “Deliver Care” on a greater scale.
As we look to turn the corner into 2021, let’s be thankful that innovation continues to advance in the healthcare space. Telehealth in all its form will continue to expand, and the American people will be benefactors of a more convenient, accessible and cost-effective care delivery system.
And thank you to all of the healthcare workers who provided on-site and virtual care in 2020. The world needs more heroes like you!