Telehealth services in hospitals are expected to grow
Amber Humphrey, Vanderbilt University Medical CenterThe telehealth director said that when the pandemic broke out, 50 percent of the total volume of the health system switched to telehealth almost overnight.
“We have seen patients feel very comfortable with telemedicine very quickly, and we have made more than 200,000 direct visits to patients since the beginning of March,” she says.
Telemedicine has also spread to all areas of health practice, with participating service providers ranging from basic care to internal medicine. VUMC also offers many pediatric specialties, including complex care for children who are not outpatient.
“Telehealth is now an expectation for patients,” says Humphrey. “They like the convenience and the knowledge that they can take care of family members over long distances.”
The experience of Baylor Scott & White Health Points out that telemedicine options are also opening up new business areas: 400,000 new patients are trying out the health system’s virtual care service COVID-19.
At the Orlando HealthThe staff, a system of eight hospitals in central Florida, used mobile devices to enable video visits between family members. There, the employees pursued a deployment strategy of “proofing and piloting”, which led to the introduction of telehealth much faster than the hospital had originally expected.
Atrium healthThe company, which launched its virtual hospital program last March, can cover two levels of care – observational and acute care – via telemedicine, including 24-hour remote monitoring of vital signs.
“I’ve heard that a large health system in the Cleveland area where I live is likely to have 20-25 percent of its visits as telemedicine in the future,” said Ryan Palmer, principal at strategic consultancy Kennedy. “This is determined by the reimbursement, but also by patient demand.”
How telehealth programs use smart devices
Going forward, hospitals will be able to provide additional in-home testing equipment and contactless services – such as integrating smart healthcare devices with video visits – to further reduce the need for patients to leave the home for care.
Some of these products are already on the market, such as smart blood glucose meters that can be used to send patient information to providers.
“Such devices continue to improve telemedicine visits, increasing the value proposition of the telemedicine visit for both the patient and the provider,” said Palmer.
As providers continue to leverage the lessons learned in 2020 to find new ways to use home health monitoring devices and services, new opportunities are opening up to identify, diagnose, and intervene early on disease.
“There will always be a need to meet with the provider in person, and there are things that telemedicine just can’t do as well as in-person, like a physical exam,” says Palmer. “But there are many things that can be done well in a telemedicine visit, and this option gives the patient more flexibility. That’s why I see the two care models as complementary. “