Pandemic has indeed altered our living; it has affected several aspects, including healthcare. The pandemic has made Telehealth an integral component of healthcare facilities in urban and rural areas. Following are the six telehealth trends to look for in 2022.
1. The acceptance of virtual care among patients
The patients turned towards virtual care during the pandemic. Although after the initial surge, there was a decline in the use of telehealth services, 36 percent of patients still utilized virtual care services in 2021. Telehealth isn’t just popular among millennials. Rather than all generations using these services, the majority of the customers state they plan to continue using Telehealth in 2022. Moreover, 60 percent of the telehealth users are women, which means it is more popular among this gender.
When delving into why patients embrace Telehealth, patients believe it provides the convenience, quick response, and least exposure to subjecting to other diseases. Experts believe that these benefits will prompt the use of telehealth services by patients in the future.
2. Virtual care integrated into patient care plans
Insurers have also realized Telehealth’s benefits, so most health insurance companies have already begun offering virtual care plans to patients as it provides a convenient and affordable means to access primary healthcare services. Experts assume that embracing Telehealth will move insurers from following a fee-for-service to a value-based health care model.
Kyle Zebley, Vice President at the American Telemedicine Association and Executive Director, ATA Action, states insurers might offer Telehealth as a concierge service to assist receivers in planning their healthcare journey ahead.
3. Telehealth will continue to develop new specialties
The aftermath of the pandemic has changed the healthcare services, and several specialties have embraced Telehealth in their services. For example, behavioral health, dermatology, and primary care have already taken advantage of them. However, the rest of the specialties provides follow-up care.
Also, there are certain healthcare specialties where Telehealth can’t be embraced as, at some point of the cycle of care, a specialist must lay hands-on patients. But can be utilized for follow-up and consultation only.
4. Telehealth to provide more time with patients
A little while back, Telehealth was considered an impersonal method used in healthcare. But now, providers have realized the advantages of using Telehealth and believe it is a successful approach to spending quality time with patients.
According to Dr. Khizer Khaderi, Director and Founder of the Stanford Human Perception Laboratory, Telehealth allows patients the flexibility of accessibility and provision of quality care, where you can shift the hours of the virtual session according to physician availability. It provides a face-to-face interaction experience lacking in the clinic experience, where most of the time is spent on charting.
5. Adopting Telehealth will remain a prominent issue in some areas
Despite several efficiencies of Telehealth, it wasn’t easy to launch in several urban and rural facilities. Dr. Khaderi states that they have to shift multiple times among video call platforms irrespective of the locality. Other issues of Telehealth include government regulations and HIPAA. Until now, facilities are operating under 1135 waivers, which allow them to use technology in health care, which is usually unavailable due to regulatory restrictions. Once the emergency is removed, these flexibilities will also end.
Another challenge in the implementation of Telehealth includes the lack of broadband connection in rural areas. It is highly crucial for embracing Telehealth effectively.
6. Telehealth to address the provider shortage in future
The Association of American Medical Colleges revealed the United States would face a scarcity of physicians, between 37,800 and 124,000, by 2034, both in primary and specialty care. On the other hand, the number of patients in need of healthcare is growing rapidly in America. Experts view Telehealth as a solution to meet the growing patient need with a limited medical workforce in such a situation.
The medical workforce shortage was already a prevailing issue before the pandemic occurred. However, the Great Resignation further intensifies it. The frontline workforce is utterly weary and is pondering on other career choices. Without embracing the efficiencies of Telehealth, how can healthcare get in front of the increasing number of patients.
All in all, these telehealth trends 2022 demonstrate that Telehealth is here to stay and providers and patients both need it. To remain competitive, healthcare institutions will need to discover new methods to incorporate technology into their patient care delivery strategy.