A guide to the telehealth landscape and emerging trends
  • Telehealth emerged as a critical solution during the COVID-19 pandemic, offering remote consultations and maintaining essential services while keeping patients and providers safe.
  • Telehealth is currently deployed in multiple different ways, each with their own distinct trends and ways forward.
  • There are both pitfalls and opportunities ahead. What to do next depends on the current positioning of each service.

The COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted healthcare, leading to widespread disruption and uncertainty. Telehealth emerged as a vital solution, safeguarding public health and ensuring access to essential care during this challenging period.

As healthcare systems became strained and social distancing measures were implemented, telehealth provided an innovative alternative to traditional in-person visits. This allowed healthcare providers to maintain critical services while protecting both patients and themselves. Virtual telehealth consultations enabled ongoing management of chronic conditions, urgent medical needs, and general health monitoring.

Telehealth played a crucial role in bridging the healthcare gap, especially for patients in rural and underserved areas. By using video calls, phone consultations, and other digital communication tools, patients connected with healthcare professionals remotely, overcoming geographical constraints and expanding access to care during the pandemic.

Telehealth today is typically deployed in a number of different ways:

  • Virtual healthcare
  • Telehealth software
  • Healthcare systems
  • Electronic health record software
  • Doctor booking sites

Below, we will explore these five core areas of telehealth further. We will detail what they entail as well as the key technology challenges and trends for each.

Virtual healthcare

What is virtual healthcare?

Virtual care is when companies offer consultations directly to patients (B2C) or in collaboration with insurance companies.

What virtual healthcare companies do

Telehealth companies have emerged as a direct-to-consumer (B2C) model, providing convenient and accessible care to patients. By offering telehealth consultations directly to patients or partnering with insurance companies, these businesses help bridge gaps in care, especially for those living in remote areas or with limited mobility. Patients can consult with healthcare professionals via video, chat, or phone, enabling quick and efficient access to medical advice and treatment.

Many virtual care companies currently grapple with high no-show rates, which can negatively impact both their efficiency and overall patient experience. To address this issue, their immediate focus should be on refining their video implementation to ensure a seamless and user-friendly experience for both providers and patients. By eliminating technical barriers and creating a more intuitive platform, virtual care companies can enhance user satisfaction and reduce the likelihood of missed appointments. This will not only foster greater engagement and trust between healthcare providers and patients but also contribute to more effective virtual care delivery, ultimately benefiting the broader healthcare ecosystem.

Going forward, there also is a clear opportunity for these companies to evolve into self-service solutions for healthcare.

The advent of digital self-service solutions in healthcare aims to transform the way patients access medical care. By offering more affordable and convenient alternatives to traditional in-person consultations, these digital solutions can reach a larger population and contribute to improved healthcare accessibility. One primary advantage of digital self-service solutions is the potential to relieve healthcare professionals from routine tasks, allowing them to focus on more complex cases that require their expertise. By automating simple, repetitive tasks, such as prescription refills for recurring medical conditions, these solutions can streamline the patient-doctor interaction and enhance overall efficiency.

Digital therapeutics is an emerging class of solutions that combine self-service with medical interventions to manage, treat, and prevent specific health conditions. These solutions often incorporate real-time data collection and analysis to personalize care, improve patient outcomes, and provide more effective interventions.

Digital therapeutics is particularly well-suited for the management of chronic diseases and mild mental health conditions, as it allows for continuous monitoring and personalized interventions based on each patient's unique needs. By enabling patients to self-administer treatments and track their progress, these solutions empower them to take a more active role in managing their health. Furthermore, digital therapeutics facilitate closer follow-ups between patients and providers, as they can monitor treatment responses and adjust interventions accordingly. This increased communication helps to foster a more collaborative approach to healthcare, ultimately improving patient outcomes and satisfaction.

Telehealth software

What is telehealth software?

Telehealth software enables traditional healthcare systems to employ telehealth.

What telehealth software companies do

To keep up with technological advancements, many traditional healthcare providers have integrated telehealth into their services. Telehealth software solutions allow these providers to offer virtual consultations, remote monitoring, and patient education. This not only benefits patients by improving access to care but also helps healthcare providers enhance their services and reach a wider audience.

Telehealth software companies also face the critical challenge of addressing the no-show problem for their customers. Ensuring that patients consistently attend their virtual appointments is vital for both patient care and the overall success of telehealth platforms. By enhancing user experience and addressing any barriers to seamless virtual consultations, these companies can work to improve appointment attendance and meet their customers' needs.

A key challenge for telehealth software companies is integrating their platforms into existing provider workflows. To achieve this, they must focus on developing seamless integrations with electronic health record (EHR) systems and other essential tools utilized by healthcare providers. By creating harmonious connections between telehealth platforms and these crucial systems, companies can streamline the virtual care process and improve overall efficiency for healthcare professionals.

Additionally, a significant opportunity for telehealth software companies lies in the integration of supplementary tools into their telehealth workflows. Examples of such tools include survey instruments, diagnostic aids, and artificial intelligence algorithms that can analyze consultation content. By incorporating these technologies into their platforms, telehealth companies can enhance the overall functionality and effectiveness of their solutions, offering providers more comprehensive tools for patient care and management.

Healthcare systems

What are healthcare systems?

Healthcare systems are hospital organizations offering telehealth as part of a comprehensive offering to their patients.

What do healthcare system companies do

Some healthcare systems have adopted a more integrated approach by offering telehealth as part of their overall patient care strategy. This holistic approach ensures that patients receive continuous and comprehensive care, regardless of location. Telehealth enables these systems to reduce waiting times, minimize the need for in-person visits, and offer more efficient utilization of resources, ultimately improving patient outcomes and satisfaction.

To tackle the no-show problem and provide a seamless telehealth experience, it is crucial for healthcare systems to ensure that the quality and usability of their telehealth software is on par with the offerings of leading virtual care providers. This includes addressing technical issues, streamlining user interfaces, and providing reliable and secure connections between patients and healthcare professionals. By prioritizing user experience and software quality, healthcare organizations can foster patient trust and confidence in the telehealth services they offer.

When executed correctly, hospital organizations have the opportunity to create a healthcare offering where telehealth becomes a vital component of a holistic healthcare experience. By addressing all aspects of a comprehensive healthcare system, telehealth can seamlessly integrate into the patient care process, ensuring that patients receive well-rounded and efficient care. This approach will help healthcare organizations optimize their resources, expand access to care, and ultimately contribute to improved patient outcomes and satisfaction.

Electronic Health Record software

What is electronic health record software?

EHR/EMRs incorporate telehealth as an integral part of the health record software, typically used by all practitioners in an organization.

What does electronic health record software do

Electronic health record (EHR) software that incorporates telehealth features provides healthcare providers with a seamless way to deliver care virtually. With integrated telehealth capabilities, providers can easily access patient records during virtual consultations, enabling them to make better-informed decisions about treatment and care. This integration also facilitates streamlined communication and information exchange between patients and their care team, ensuring continuity of care across multiple settings.

EHR software providers must ensure that the quality and usability of their systems are on par with those of dedicated telehealth software solutions. The long software development backlogs often associated with EHR companies can lead to compromised quality and usability, negatively impacting the overall user experience. It is vital that EHR software providers prioritize addressing these concerns, as seamless telehealth integration and user satisfaction are crucial for the successful implementation and adoption of virtual care in healthcare systems.

The advent of AI and machine learning has opened new possibilities for enhancing the doctor consultation experience, providing assistive tools that support healthcare professionals during consultations. By leveraging AI and machine learning, doctors can access essential information and make more informed decisions, leading to improved patient outcomes.

Language barriers, which can pose significant challenges in accessing equitable healthcare, can be addressed with advancements in natural language processing. Technologies that transcribe and translate video calls in real-time effectively bridge the language gap between patients and providers, promoting accessibility and fostering better communication and understanding.

Integrating machine learning into the consultation process can also automate the generation of consultation summaries, or SOAP notes, significantly improving healthcare professionals' productivity. AI-driven decision support systems, which parse consultation conversations in real-time, can present healthcare providers with potential diagnoses and follow-up actions, improving the accuracy of diagnosis and the appropriateness of medical procedures.

As this transformative technology continues to develop, real-time decision support systems are expected to emerge within the next five years and see widespread adoption within the subsequent five years, as their proven effectiveness and accuracy gains the trust of the medical community. EHR solutions are uniquely positioned to enable these technologies and make this transition happen.

Doctor booking sites

What are doctor booking sites?

Doctor booking sites are directory services for healthcare, making telehealth part of the offering.

What do doctor booking sites do

As telehealth gains wider acceptance, doctor booking sites and directory services have begun to include telehealth options for their users. This allows patients to search for and book appointments with healthcare providers who offer telehealth services. By doing so, these platforms contribute to increased awareness and utilization of telehealth, encouraging its integration into mainstream healthcare services.

Booking sites have the opportunity to create a seamless user journey for patients, even across different healthcare providers. By offering a streamlined, user-friendly platform, these services can simplify the process of finding and scheduling telehealth appointments, further promoting the integration of virtual care into the healthcare experience. This cohesive approach can encourage greater adoption and utilization of telehealth services by patients and providers alike.

In addition to facilitating patient bookings, these platforms can also leverage their position to incorporate AI tooling that enhances the doctor's experience and provides other functionality required by the medical community, such as EHR functionality. By integrating AI-driven technologies and innovative features, booking sites can play a pivotal role in supporting the evolving needs of both patients and healthcare providers, driving the continued growth and acceptance of telehealth in modern healthcare systems.

In conclusion, the telehealth landscape has evolved significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic, demonstrating its potential as a viable solution for delivering essential healthcare services remotely. As the industry continues to grow and adapt, it is crucial for stakeholders to address current challenges, such as no-show rates, seamless integration with existing systems, and enhancing user experience. The future of telehealth lies in the incorporation of advanced technologies (such as AI-driven decision support systems, digital self-service solutions, and real-time translation services) to create a more efficient and accessible healthcare experience for all. By embracing these emerging trends and focusing on innovation, telehealth providers and related companies can strengthen their position in the market and contribute to the ongoing transformation of the global healthcare landscape.

To learn more about how Daily partners with telehealth customers to provide robust real-time video and audio in the healthcare space, please contact us.

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