Prior to the pandemic, few local physicians’ practices offered telehealth or remote visits, and few if any hospital systems ran telehealth or remote patient monitoring programs at scale. In 2020 and 2021, much like patients themselves, care providers and health systems had little choice but to make heavy use of telehealth. With in-person elective visits gone and social distancing keeping many patients at home, providers stood to lose much of their revenue streams if they did not act quickly to deploy telehealth solutions. In a short amount of time, care providers needed to deploy telehealth technology, learn best practices for conducting telehealth visits, rearrange their office workflows, and learn how to bill for services rendered.
When the Department of Health and Human Services announced that it would waive penalties for HIPAA violations, many care providers that did not have a prior relationship with an established telehealth vendor quickly pivoted to consumer platforms such as Apple FaceTime, Facebook Messenger, and even Skype to conduct remote visits. However, these platforms are not designed for these use cases and lack many features, functions, and privacy protections from purpose-specific vendors. While the use of these platforms was acceptable during the height of the pandemic, many providers have either pivoted or are in the process of pivoting to HIPAA-compliant and purpose-built solutions.
Larger health systems have had an advantage due to their scale and existing degree of expertise, with many existing solutions on the market already well-designed to meet their needs. Smaller systems and private practices have experienced more challenges in rolling out these platforms, with many solutions too costly, complex or even over-engineered for their needs. One top platform meeting the needs of private practices is Doxy.me, which offers a frictionless web-based portal with a basic fee structure ranging from free of charge to $50 per provider per month.
After the past few years of telehealth experiments necessitated by COVID-19, providers, hospitals, and health systems have a greater understanding of their unique needs and wants. Many have found that properly provisioned telehealth platforms and technologies offer increased stakeholder benefits over traditional office visits; these include hybrid or remote working environments, better communication among providers, improved care coordination, and higher patient adherence as well as more regular follow-up visits.
Hospitals and health systems have also arrived at new targets for telehealth usage as a percentage of billable services. During the height of COVID-19, some health systems estimated that as many as 20% of billable services could be performed via telehealth. Systems in urban or suburban environments have since revised estimates downwards for the future to between 8-10%, focusing on specific patient conditions and office visit types most likely to benefit from remote care. Health providers also use telehealth to reduce the friction and cost of non-billable services. For many hospital use cases, there is a high overlap with remote patient monitoring, the use of which has also begun to evolve and become more targeted in overall care delivery.
This is an excerpt from Parks Associates research report, Connected Health at Home: State of the Market, which investigates the new state of the connected health market, including telehealth solutions, remote patient monitoring, and consumer connected health products. The report identifies top business opportunities for health applications in the connected home landscape and includes a 5-year forecast of connected health devices sold direct-to-consumer.
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