A New Year for Telehealth
As another year gets under way, I am energized by all the possibilities that surround us. After a year that forced us to stop in our tracks, isolate, close our circles and question just about everything, it is time to focus on the possibilities.
And the possibilities in healthcare, specifically in the telehealth space are everywhere. Telehealth, which was steadily and slowly growing (adoption rates in the U.S. hovered around 11% in January 2020), exploded into our homes with fervor over the past year. It allowed us to stay connected with our healthcare providers and afforded critical care to our vulnerable.
Aging in Place
Critical care for seniors is expected to continue to grow. COVID-19 has had a devastating effect on nursing homes across the U.S. 65% percent of nursing homes reported they are operating at a loss according to a survey conducted by the American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living of 953 nursing home providers across the country. 66% of respondents reported they won’t be able to make it another year. This is expected to create even more demand for aging in place by an already ballooning senior population. This demand for aging in place will create an opportunity for increased remote monitoring, which is where telehealth comes in.
Several new entrants (Amazon with its Care Hub available on Alexa and others) are banking on this possibility and entering into the senior care market. These new offerings will provide yet another convenient choice for a population who are often encumbered by transportation and mobility issues.
Another possibility is the continued increased usage of remote monitoring systems. These telehealth workhorses give hospitals, ICUs and patients recovering at home the ability to provide and receive much needed care with less resources. These systems save time, money and resources on both sides of the healthcare value chain. One critical way they have been used during the pandemic is by researchers conducting clinical trials. With many patients unable to travel to the trial sites, researchers are investing in remote monitoring telehealth tech paired with virtual care visits to bridge the gap. Utilizing telehealth to continue critical research wasn’t even a possibility in our not too distant past.
The possibilities in the field of telehealth/virtual care are unlimited. I am excited to witness what innovations will be sparked out of necessity caused by the pandemic. Necessity is after all the mother of invention. In the case of telehealth, these advancements will continue to shape the future of healthcare and healthcare delivery, because anything is possible.