TELEHEALTH & TELEMEDICINE DEVELOPMENT
If COVID-19 is affecting your workplace and personal life, you’re not alone. Even before coronavirus, the telemedicine/telehealth sector was up 53%, and represents the fastest-growing place of care, making it one of the few safe silos to invest in during this period of economic uncertainty.
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What is telemedicine/telehealth?
Telemedicine (also referred to as telehealth) allows healthcare providers to utilize multiple forms of technology to remotely serve their clients. In many cases, this means telemedicine allows doctors of all specialties to meet with patients over video chat to consult, and even diagnose conditions, without the need for an in-office visit. The telehealth sector has been outpacing every other healthcare vertical as far back as 2017, and we expect this divide to only increase in the wake of COVID-19.
How has telemedicine/telehealth been impacted by COVID-19?
As of March 17, 2020, an $8.3 billion funding bill allowed for less stringent restrictions on telemedicine services. Medicare and Medicaid the largest population of US-based health insurance are now authorized to pay for telehealth services. Previously, Medicare could only cover telemedicine visits on a limited basis.
The COVID-19 outbreak has been instrumental in advancing telemedicine policy. Until recently, many insurance providers restricted access to telehealth, but due to the prevalence of Coronavirus, and the national emergency that ensued, federal law now allows doctors to connect with patients using more remote mediums than ever before including non-HIPAA-compliant smartphones and tablets (even FaceTime and Skype).
While the Coronavirus won’t plague the world forever, its implications will be long-lasting. Telemedicine is no doubt the way of the future, and healthcare providers who don’t get on board in 2020 will certainly begin to lose business opportunities as patients seek more flexible providers.
What are the long-term implications for telemedicine/telehealth in the US after COVID-19?
The state of the union under COVID-19 has led to federal government officials adjusting their telemedicine stance from acceptable to encouraged as a way to reduce person-to-person contact while allowing for excellent medical advice through a remote medium.
At KitelyTech, we specialize in building systems across a wide variety of verticals. For telemedicine, this translates to exceptional business knowledge including HIPAA compliance and best-practices for patient-focused platforms via custom software and mobile applications. Based on our depth and breadth of experiences in the medical field, we’re also able to deliver on expedited timelines from initial meeting (for web platforms, custom software, mobile apps) to launching a minimum viable product (MVP) compared to our competitors. We are equipped to help healthcare providers bring a non-HIPAA compliant product to market to capitalize on short-term economic advantages, while also planning for a long-term approach and solution once HIPAA constraints are back in place.
In recent years, telemedicine companies have been optimistic about the government and market shifting towards telehealth solutions. Now that the outdated restrictions are being bypassed in the face of an emergency, it is clear the federal government recognizes telemedicine as a long-term solution, in addition to a more immediate control for COVID-19.
Low risk of contagion
- Telehealth means patients can leverage technology to discuss ailments with doctors remotely
- Telemedicine boasts dramatically lower rates of contagion than those of medical practice waiting rooms
- The average telemedicine visit costs $40 for a patient, compared to $300-$600 for the average uninsured office visit.
- Medical practices save money, too. Fewer in-office patients translate to lower overhead costs
- Medicare and Medicaid both allow for various types of telehealth appointments
- The policies of private insurance providers vary, but all are trending towards accepting and covering telemedicine and telehealth appointments in the near future, if they don’t already
- Many patients who are exhibiting symptoms are unlikely to take time out of their schedule to physically visit their PCP. Telemedicine offers an opportunity for these same patients to receive healthcare consults and treatment
Economic & social productivity
- Telemedicine reduces the spread of infectious diseases and improves the economy. It offers otherwise-reluctant patients the opportunity to both have an infectious disease diagnosed to prevent the spread of said virus and treated to allow the employee to return to work and society as soon as possible
- Patients can save time driving from their place of work to their doctor’s office and back. This will result in fewer sick days in the pursuit of in-office appointments, and more regular conversations with patients about their health