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Consumer familiarity with telehealth services and remote care is increasing across all demographics according to Parks Associates extensive consumer research. While the average telehealth user is 44 years old and likely to have children in the home, telehealth use has increased substantially across all demographic groups. Parks Associates Q2 2021 consumer data reveals the following changes in US broadband households:

  • 54% of households with an annual income of less than $30,000 used a telehealth service in the past 12 months, compared with 12% in Q2 2019.
  • 42% of those who self-identify as technology laggards (i.e., buying new technology only once traditional alternatives are no longer available) used a telehealth service, up from 6% in Q2 2019.
  • 69% of Black/African-American consumers and 70% of Latino or Hispanic consumers used a telehealth service, up from 43% and 23%, respectively, in Q2 2019.
  •  42% of consumers ages 65 and older reported using a telehealth service in Q2 2021, up from just 6% in Q2 2019.

Beyond Virtual Visits: RPM and Hospital at Home

Including virtual visits, remote care models take five main forms:

  • Virtual visits – typically for check-ups, primary care, or urgent-care type conditions; few visits incorporate vital sign or other data from health devices and sensors.
  • Remote diagnostics – remote patient monitoring (RPM) using connected health sensors and devices to diagnose a specific condition, often cardiac issues or sleep disorders.
  • Chronic condition management – ongoing remote patient monitoring programs for those with chronic conditions.
  • Post-discharge monitoring – remote patient monitoring for a limited period of time after a patient is discharged from the hospital.
  • Hospital at home – provides hospital-level care into a patient’s home, including not only monitoring devices but staff to the home as well.

One of the key limiting factors for virtual visits today is the lack of vital signs and other critical health data to which clinicians would otherwise have access in a facility setting. This lack of data limits the types of conditions that can be treated in a standard virtual consultation model. Each of these additional remote care models incorporates medical sensors and devices and elevate the level of care that is possible at home.

Translating Data Into Meaningful Information

Remote care in the home relies both on the quality of patient monitoring and on the insights provided to the care team. There is a real danger in data overload and alert fatigue to undermining otherwise well-designed RPM and Hospital at Home programs. The software platform and algorithms tasked with integrating and evaluating data must identify the data that matters when it matters.

Increasingly, RPM platforms apply artificial intelligence to sort through the noise. The use of predictive analytics and machine learning algorithms in healthcare turn real-time data into actionable and potentially life-saving insights and diagnostic support. Examples of use cases powered by AI and algorithms include the ability to algorithmically compare patient trajectories, proactively identify and avoid health crises, triage at-risk patients, diagnose unidentified and undiagnosed medical conditions, and predict falls or mobility declines in the elderly, among many others.

Predictive analytics can proactively flag at-risk patients for intervention prior to a health incident. These systems can integrate with EMRs via the HL7's Continuity of Care Document standard, Admit Discharge Transfer feeds, and custom field integrations. This lessens clinician reporting fatigue and allows event-based triggers to occur via the provider's own systems.

Just retrieving measurements is only scratching the surface of what connected health solutions can do. Artificial intelligence and machine learning, as well as highly tested and clinically proven algorithms, vastly increase the value proposition of connected health technologies and platforms. They enable a wide variety of new use cases, provide decision support tools for clinicians, and reduce administrative burden. They translate data into meaningful information and can even be shared back as insights or educational material for patients and family caregivers to understand their own health status.

Models of remote healthcare in the home are both scaling and evolving. Innovative players in this space are rolling out well-designed and user intuitive health IoT solutions, pulling in data from sensors and devices in consumers’ homes, and building intelligent, integrated platforms that better serve their clients and patient populations. Changes in reimbursements have also helped accelerate the adoption of new approaches to monitoring that, in lieu of sending data straight to medical records and putting the burden of viewing and interpreting data on clinicians, call on intelligent platforms to interpret the data and escalate to clinicians if appropriate.

There remains a need for solutions that can remove the burden of compliance from the end-user and give providers insights into patient health status in-between readings and overnight. With continuous, connected passive sensors and devices supporting healthcare models in the home, there’s a new opportunity to elevate the experience for both the provider and the patient.

The future of healthcare has a need for non-invasive solutions that enable providers to proactively understand and manage healthcare events for consumers. The right data at the right time can make all the difference in order to help manage care. Sensor-based technologies that provide passive monitoring will continue to play a huge role in healthcare in the future.

This is an excerpt from the recent white paper, Health at Home: New Era of Healthcare, published in partnership with EarlySense. This new whitepaper examines the state of the virtual care market, with particular emphasis on the factors driving the shift from facility-centric care to healthcare at home. The analysis delves into the technology solutions needed to facilitate longer-term remote care, particularly with respect to provider ability to continually assess patient deterioration or significant changes in overall health. Download the full paper.

Parks Associates has been studying the connected health market for more than 15 years. Thanks for reading our research. We love all comments about our work! If you need business intelligence, please consider our research services and events.

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