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The Modern State of Telehealth Services – Pandemic Catalyzed, Practicality Driven

A patient taking their blood pressure while a doctor watches on screen

Telehealth services were effectively a non-thing a couple of decades ago. Some academic centers provided remote health services to some rural areas. In 2011, only a third of hospitals even offered telehealth services in some capacity. But today, more than 80 percent now provide these services either part-time or full-time. And that number is increasing quickly, especially in the midst of a pandemic.

You might suspect that the COVID-19 pandemic can account for much of this growth. Indeed, it has played a role. But that role is one that has been educational more than anything. Even before virtual remote care was seen as a means to avoid coronavirus infection, telehealth benefits were being recognized. Many healthcare providers and patients alike were already on-board. But now, having been forced to seek medical care online, increasing numbers of patients and clinicians are seeing telehealth benefits. And several innovative companies are attending to this growing demand.

“When facing any health crisis, including this pandemic, we’re uniquely positioned to understand the consumer and patient needs and how to address them…Utilization of telemedicine for virtual visits through MinuteClinic is up about 600% compared to the first quarter of 2019.” Larry Merlo, CEO of CVS

Telehealth Benefits for Patients

For years, specific segments of the population have appreciated the telehealth benefits. Those in rural areas or who need specialized care may have to travel long distances to receive the appropriate attention. Telehealth, however, allows technology to connect patients and providers virtually, which often avoids this travel time. Likewise, there’s no sitting in a waiting room waiting for an appointment. When the provider is ready, the remote examination takes place. This is the type of convenience many patients now recognize.

Some telehealth apps on a phone
Telehealth benefits include convenience and–of course–lowered exposure to pesky viruses one might encounter in a doctor’s office.

Naturally, one of the major telehealth benefits is the avoidance of exposure to communicable diseases like COVID. But at the same time, telehealth services are enabling better care in other areas for patients. Specifically, the ability to monitor chronic disease or post-operative care at home can be performed virtually. Some companies are now expanding telehealth services into mental healthcare as well. As a result, remote virtual care is providing healthcare access to some populations that were previously limited. And in a much more convenient way.

“Our focus is on creating real solutions for the mental health crisis and these new offerings will allow Mindleap to have international reach and affect more lives during these times of crisis.” – Nikolai Vassev, Founder of Mindleap

Telehealth Benefits for Providers

Though often overlooked, there are a number of telehealth benefits for providers as well. By seeing patients virtually, office staff generally have less of a burden. Less office space is required, and physicians can even choose to address issues remotely while mobile or at home. This not only allows providers to be more efficient, but it also reduces the amount of travel they need to do as well. Just as patients are enjoying the Come-to-Me Economy with telehealth services, so are providers. As a result, they are able to render care faster and more efficiently.

Naturally, cost is a big issue in healthcare, and many tout telehealth services as being cost-effective. For several years, many insurance providers refused to pay for virtual care, or they paid at a reduced rate. Today, however, the vast majority of states now have parity laws requiring payers to accommodate telehealth services. With this in place, it is now clear that more advanced telehealth platforms are helping providers be more cost-efficient. Plus, the reduction in-office visits, emergency room visits, and hospitalizations are saving the system as a whole. These cost savings will ultimately be the biggest driver of change in telehealth adoption.

“There is no doubt that we are seeing positive momentum and that awareness has increased. Telemedicine is now a household term.” – Lewis Levy, MD, Chief Medical Officer of Teladoc

Movers and Shakers in Telehealth Services

While several innovative companies now exist in the telemedicine and telehealth sector, Teladoc is becoming well-known. Most telehealth companies are seeing double-digit growth, but Teledoc exceeds this substantially. In the last year, the company reported a 203% year-on-year growth in telehealth visits for its clients. Likewise, Teledoc enjoys a 90% retention rate among its clients. It also has reported an 85% revenue growth annually as well. In a global market expected to be worth $185 billion by 2026, Teledoc is leading the way.

Teledoc has several notable clients. For one, CVS utilizes Teledoc telehealth platform for its MinuteClinic. Likewise, Teledoc has rapidly advanced its footprint through a variety of acquisitions. The most notable one as of late is that of Livongo Health Inc. Livongo brings a more robust AI-data-driven platform to the table that is actionable and offers personalized care. It also has greater experience in specific chronic disease care like diabetes. And it too has a high client retention rate at 94%. These companies combined are expected to advance telehealth benefits to an even greater scale.

Teladoc has also recently expressed the importance of serving mental health patients through its platforms. But they are not alone. Mydecine Innovation Group Inc. has a robust mental health app designed for telehealth services. Called Mindleap Health, a number of telehealth services are offered including several 30-day transformation programs. These range from substance use to mood disorders, and they are providing telehealth benefits to an expanding population. As these care options grow in telehealth services, there’s little doubt telehealth will become an established mode of patient care.

A Panoply of Virtual Care Offerings

Within the healthcare sector, a number of innovative changes are occurring. Several technology companies are exploring AI data-driven strategies to improve healthcare outcomes. Some of these actually involve using data insights to better connect patients and doctors. Within the telehealth sector, a number of companies are offering a spectrum of platforms as well. These range from portable technologies and mobile health apps to live video-chats and digital data transmissions. The advantages of these telehealth services are increasingly becoming apparent. And oddly enough, we have the pandemic to thank for this, at least in part.


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