As winter approaches and COVID-19 cases continue to mount, there’s a stark reality coming into view: traditional healthcare is going to really be tested over the next few months.
Yet, there are silver linings and glimmers of hope. Vaccine trials are progressing promisingly on many fronts – with vaccine candidates from Moderna, University of Oxford/AstraZeneca, and Sinovac, among others – approved for and/or already proceeding with large-scale human trials (Stage 3).
Another silver lining has been the rapid emergence of telehealth — which like its technological counterpart, teleconferencing — has seen record adoption as people strive to limit their person-to-person contact. Analysts now believe telehealth will grow at a YOY growth rate of 80%, up from an expected 16.9% prior to the pandemic.
While a significant driver of telehealth growth has been people’s desire to stay home, there are several other important factors that have helped set the stage for the rise of telehealth:
- Deregulation – The Center of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has significantly expanded the scope of its telehealth coverage, allowing 135 additional services to be provided over telehealth, removing a requirement that required telehealth beneficiaries to be from a rural area, and allowing telehealth services to be received at home, not just in a supervised facility. Separately, the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) at the Department of Human and Health Services (HHS) has pledged to not enforce penalties for noncompliance with HIPAA’s patient privacy rules, according to a “good faith provision of telehealth”.
- Internet Access/Usage – Widespread access to high-speed Internet, including affordable wireless plans with unlimited data, has brought fast Internet connectivity to most Americans and many other countries. At home, more than 75% of American adults have broadband internet service. Among Americans age 65+, those who traditionally require more healthcare services, 73% use the Internet, up from just 40% in 2009.
- Smartphone Adoption – Smartphone adoption continues to rise, with 81% of all U.S. adults owning a smartphone and 96% owning a cellphone of any kind. (Pew Research)
The global pandemic has spurred the ultra-rapid response we’ve seen on the vaccine development front, and it is also now helping to accelerate the development of telehealth solutions in the private sector.
Interested in Telehealth?
CitrusBits has built many of the world’s most promising telehealth services — for clients such as The Johns Hopkins University, Stanford University, IrisVision, Actelion, and Chemowave. We invite you to get in touch with us to discuss how we can help your organization create a successful telehealth application.