The Outpatient Market Continues to Grow, and Emerging Tech is Helping its Rise

Updated on August 26, 2022
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Outpatient care facilities, often associated with larger hospitals, are driving innovation in the healthcare industry.  The need for tools and services that personalize the patient experience, while reducing hospital overflow, is a driving force behind rapid growth in technology utilization.   Rather than focus on volume-based care, facilities have shifted their focus to improving patient engagement and lowering the total cost of care.

The Far-reaching Impact of Outpatient Facilities 

Patients and healthcare professionals benefit from outpatient care clinics for several reasons. 

First, outpatient care facilities reach larger populations, especially those outside of major metropolitan areas or those in ‘healthcare deserts.”  Next, outpatient care is less expensive than its inpatient equivalent, making it the first choice for individuals without health insurance.  Offering round-the-clock access to medical care while avoiding long waits, typical of hospitals, is a significant incentive for non-life-threatening conditions.  Patients who choose outpatient care heal at home instead of the hospital. Additionally, outpatient facilities can potentially accelerate the adoption of new medical technologies and procedures to a greater number of communities.

Increasingly Rapid Adoption of Emerging Technologies 

The growth of outpatient care facilities has been steadily increasing in the years prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Healthcare facilities that invested in outpatient based virtual care technology have become the saving grace for hospitals by helping manage the influx of non-emergency patients.  For instance, current trends show certain orthopedic and cardiac procedures, previously performed as inpatient procedures, are now successfully done in an outpatient setting. Patients are tired of old, inconvenient practices. So even traditional medical organizations are embracing tech-enabled patient interactions. Some examples include the use of mobile apps, messaging services, and web-based patient portals. Using technology without sacrificing the human touch is crucial to patient-centered care.  Technology adoption by clinicians can often be a hurdle, but the power of patient data to inform positive patient outcomes is bridging the gap.

Consider BIONIK, an AI-powered robotics company that provides quality-of-life solutions to those with movement impairments. BIONIK’s InMotion Therapy helps rehabilitate individuals with neurological conditions or injuries. The approach pairs the technology with anonymized patient data to allow therapists to see the direct correlation between the use of the device and improvements in mobility.    Bionik’s software platform, InMotion Connect, securely collects data on patient movements from each InMotion device, providing both patients and therapists with motivation to continue with their rehab services at the outpatient facility.

A recent BIONIK white paper has shown that increasing the number of InMotion robot-assisted therapy sessions is associated with greater therapeutic gains for patients suffering from upper-extremity motor impairments.  The article also shows how the number of monthly therapy sessions performed on InMotion devices has increased by 45% from 2019 to 2021. With insights like these, the outpatient staff is now empowered to utilize new technologies that clearly demonstrate value to both the patients themselves and the business of the facility.   

Outpatient Care & TeleHealth will Grow Simultaneously

Telehealth has not only been a crucial tool during the COVID pandemic, it was propelled by it, and telehealth is now here to stay.  Healthcare institutions that have refined their virtual healthcare strategy confirm telehealth’s presence in the nation’s healthcare system.  Trends show that over the next three years, 40% of providers will shift 20% of hospital beds into patients homes.  Outpatient and ambulatory services growth is fueled by the patient’s need for service accessibility and convenience.  The adaptability of telehealth helps healthcare providers meet patients where they are.

Another aspect of why outpatient care and telehealth are growing exponentially is that going digital allows for increased patient data collection.  Personalizing treatments must go beyond automatic visit summaries and provide real value.  Regardless of industry, today’s consumers won’t be loyal without better and easier customer experiences, and consumers have shown that they do value innovation.  The healthcare industry must continually reevaluate care delivery processes and demands made on patients to meet current and future consumer expectations.

The Future of Outpatient Care and Telehealth

In considering growth trends of outpatient care facilities and telehealth, one cannot ignore the major players entering the arena.  The recent news of Amazon acquiring One Health is one example.  Can the tech giant, known for selling products, supply chain, and data, be the one to revolutionize health care?  Amazon’s dominance and experience utilizing data may innovate and scale value-based care on a whole new level. Only the future will tell if One Medical’s human-centered and Amazon’s technology-powered approach to healthcare will be the standard business model to follow when giants like Walgreens, CVS, Humana, United, and others join the fray.

Rich Russo
Richard Russo, Jr.
Chief Financial Officer and Interim Chief Executive Officer at BIONIK Laboratories Corp.

Richard Russo, Jr., Chief Financial Officer and Interim Chief Executive Officer,  BIONIK Laboratories Corp. (OTCQB: BNKL) - a robotics company based in Boston, MA focused on providing rehabilitation and mobility solutions to individuals with neurological and mobility challenges from hospital to home. The Company has a portfolio of products focused on upper and lower extremity rehabilitation for stroke and other mobility-impaired patients, including three products on the market and two products in varying stages of development.