COVID-19 provided a much-needed catalyst for widespread integration of telemedicine. Now it’s time to use it against our biggest long-term health challenges.
Telemedicine is not a new idea; in fact, its roots can be traced back to the 1920s, when radio transmissions were used to send medical advice to ships at sea. Recent years have brought technological advances that allow us to weave telehealth into the fabric of everyday life. Yet, despite those advances, lack of reimbursement models and overall lack of comfort with telemedicine have hindered its adoption.
COVID-19 changed everything, though. Social distancing has become woven into our everyday lives and accelerated the use of video for everything from work meetings to gym classes and happy hours. In the healthcare space, the trend is no different. Hospitals and health systems have found new ways to use video to connect patients with families when they cannot visit, conduct virtual health screenings, treat acute illness, and more. Telehealth has become more widely accepted by both providers and patients. In fact, a survey by SYKES in March 2020 found that 96% of people who have tried a telehealth appointment would schedule or already have scheduled another. This acceptance is important, because telemedicine holds tremendous potential for a variety of use cases. It can help tackle some of the most universal and pervasive challenges to health and healthcare, including chronic disease management.