Looking Forward 2021 (Q1): Telehealth / Telemedicine

Here are the top trends in the telehealth / telemedicine industry to watch for in 2021.

  • It all starts here — Secure, Scalable Infrastructure: Early in the pandemic, providers – and CMS – justifiably had an “anything goes” approach to the technology platforms permissible for telehealth services. This latitude in systems has been moderated somewhat by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) guidance to permissible platforms. However, many providers still have not migrated to robust systems with medical-grade security. In 2021, providers will need to evaluate their needs and select platforms to serve at scale.Additionally, bandwidth and connectivity – for providers and patients – must be scaled. The FCC’s Connected Care Pilot Program, which is allocating $100M for networking and connectivity infrastructure projects, reflects the need. However, this is just the start. According to the HIMSS survey, more than 41% of respondents plan to increase their investment in robust data connectivity post-pandemic. Additionally, as the platforms for delivering telehealth mature to offer a more comprehensive array of digital services, bandwidth and connectivity requirements will increase. Provider organizations will need to understand their requirements, identify emerging technologies, and proactively mature their LAN, WAN and wireless infrastructure.
  •  Patient Experience is Paramount: Patient demand has been a critical driver in telehealth growth; this demand will endure and continually place greater expectations on healthcare organizations. As providers plan for their next iteration of telehealth, patient experience and expectations should be a significant consideration. When selecting a telehealth platform, organizations should strive to unify communications and adopt platforms that manage their telehealth experience through video, text, and chatbots, and improve the patient’s meta experience, including reminders and follow-up surveys.
  • EHR-embedded Telehealth Maximizes Provider Efficiency: In the future, it will be essential for telehealth video functionality to be embedded in the EHR for it to reach its full efficiency and provider adoption. Like patients, physicians seek ease of use, and coding and billing will need integrated solutions to ensure accuracy and timeliness. This may mean migrating telehealth platforms, additional builds in the EHR, or both.
  • Expect Vendor Consolidation and Maturation: The strategic shifts in telehealth described above will result in marked changes in the telehealth vendor market. As of summer 2020, there were over 260 vendors, providing “telehealth” of some variety. Providers should plan for major shifts in this market in 2021 – and plan their telehealth platforms and strategy accordingly.For the full rundown on Telehealth trends and more, check out “The Future of Telehealth is Now: 4 Key Trends for 2021” on the Pivot Point Consulting blog.

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Laura Kreofsky, Pivot Point Consulting Vice President VP, Advisory & Telehealth, brings a wealth of expertise to her role leading Pivot Point Consulting’s Advisory practice. Over the past 27 years, she has led health IT planning, implementation and operations in the private and public sectors; working with and for academic medical centers, community hospitals, insurers, public health agencies and international clients. Her areas of focus include IT-enabled business strategy, IT operations and governance and industry regulations and reform. Additionally, she directs Pivot Point’s thought leadership, providing insight and guidance on health IT policy, emerging technologies and industry trends.

 

 

 

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