Telehealth had its overdue Cinderella moment during the pandemic, but as daily life returns to normal and temporary policy changes propelling virtual-care could expire, what happens to virtual care? Will Telehealth continue as the world opens up, or have we finally made adoption mainstream to the point of no going back?
Accessibility has become Table Stakes
The pandemic threw telehealth into the spotlight and into the homes of millions of Americans overnight. The ability to receive quality care without leaving the safety of one’s living room gave unprecedented access to providers, and was the impetus of a significant shift in the patient/provider relationship. Instead of having only one brief opportunity to speak to our providers per visit, virtual platforms allowed patients to communicate as needed, over days and weeks, and months – sending messages, scheduling appointments easily, and accessing their own data on their own time. It put the power back in the hands of the people and facilitated a refreshed type of relationship between providers and patients.
This desire for connection is here to stay, even as people go back into the clinic for many medical appointments. While we may not be leveraging a virtual visit to take care of our everyday primary care needs, patients have grown accustomed to a new level of interaction with their providers. This type of tech-enabled care will only continue to expand.
Collaboration as a Competitive Advantage
Traditionally healthcare providers operated in silos, with patient data housed behind walls. This data segmentation has occurred because EMR platforms have not made it easy to share data across health systems, and health systems viewed this as part of their business moat. This closed approach came at the detriment of patient care and outcomes, especially for those working across multiple healthcare institutions or those navigating complex chronic conditions.
Fortunately, COVID has ushered in a new era of innovation that was long overdue in the industry. Notably, the rise in new health tech EMRs, data-accessibility, and interoperability platforms that are API-first has changed the conversation. We will look back at this innovation and say that it turned a page in healthcare delivery, as healthcare delivery companies and systems can now focus on collaboration, accessing data from a patient’s entire medical history, and more.
The Future is Virtual-First
As an industry, we’re realizing that the way healthcare has traditionally been delivered is leading to suboptimal outcomes for both patients and providers. Siloed care, with little to no data sharing across providers and platforms, has slowed the process down and increased costs. Holistic, coordinated care delivered by a team of doctors, coaches, therapists, nurses, and specialists provides an ongoing, coordinated experience for patients that leads to better outcomes.
As the data walls come down and tools that healthcare providers use become more integrated and open to new services being added, we will see more holistic and longitudinal care that is virtual-first and reaches far beyond our current success metric of “number of telehealth visits.”
Covid may have been the catalyst speeding along some of the innovations in healthcare that were already on the horizon. Still, there is a new wave of technology-first healthcare companies that have begun rethinking the entire patient experience from the ground up. Patients have already responded well to these innovations, and there’s a lot more in store for digital health.
Erica is the Co-Founder and CEO of Healthie, a mission-driven business building infrastructure for next-gen digital health. Running the company profitably for the last four years, Erica is a TechStars graduate with more than a decade of healthcare and business experience. Today, more than 35 million people in the country lack basic healthcare access due to cost and lack of accessibility. Additionally, 22% of Americans use telehealth services. Healthie’s API-first and fully brandable suite of solutions - EMR, coaching platform, scheduling software, and patient engagement - enable healthcare builders to launch and scale best-in-class experiences for their members and quickly scale a provider network. Healthie’s organizations deliver holistic care in verticals like behavioral health, women's health, pediatrics and caregiving, and health coaching. Healthie is HIPAA Compliant and SOC-2 Certified. Erica is demonstrating how data bridging can create a better healthcare future for patients, and she’s leading the charge with Helathie.