At this point in the COVID pandemic, many professionals are keen to understand which technologies to consider as they expand their repertoire of technology and associated skills. Previously unavailable or unknown technologies have been made available, offering what can be a dizzying array of options without many basic explanations. With the rapid, forced adoption, many workflows were approximated digitally. Now maybe a good time to start reviewing what works, what doesn’t and consider upcoming alternatives. This article will review five of the most promising telehealth trends to watch in the post-pandemic world.
Telehealth Trend to Watch #1: The Rapid Expansion of Telehealth
According to a survey completed by Mckinsey, only 11% of the global population used some form of telehealth before the COVID pandemic. That percentage has risen to approximately 76%. Telehealth’s numerous advantages, including cost and time savings, ease of access, reduction of potential exposure to contagious disease, and a reduction in the need for travel, have moved telehealth from a boutique specialty to the mainstream. As articulated in other TBHI articles, there has been a professional as well as the public outcry for governmental officials to continue funding telehealth moving forward.
Telehealth Trend #2: Big Data
Big data refers to the field dedicated to analyzing, systematically extracting information from, or otherwise working with data sets that are too large or complex to be dealt with by traditional data-processing application software or by humans without technology. Big data can be seen when you order a product online and are digitally offered a companion product that matches your needs. As technology gets more sophisticated, these shopping experiences will match your buying history and companion products that everyone sees.
According to BARC research, big data can assist 64% of businesses across industries to improve strategic decisions, 54% to manage operational processes, 52% to better understand customers, and 47% to efficiently lower expenses. Statista, on the other hand, predicts that the big data market will grow to USD 274.3 billion by 2022 at a Compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.2%. Logistics, business services, education, manufacturing, and communication use big data to tap into the hidden potential under the piles of unstructured data. Healthcare big data has been developing behind the scenes for decades. It is now most easily visible over the last decade in the widespread use of Electronic Health Records, digitized billing, and digitized interventions such as remote patient monitoring, which Medicare and some private insurers now reimburse. See these TBHI articles for more information:
- Remote Patient Monitoring & Telehealth Reimbursement
- Increased Reimbursement for Remote Patient Monitoring
- New Act to Allow Counselors Medicare Telehealth Reimbursement
- Announcement of Expansion of Medicare Telehealth by CMS
For organizations and professionals wanting to prepare for this latest telehealth trend, getting staff informed, educated, and willing to maneuver in this arena is another good place to start.
Telehealth Trend to Watch #3: Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence (AI) has become a key asset during the pandemic. It is currently being used to estimate infection rates by gathering data from multiple sources, such as social media, phone conversations, and news. With AI, it is possible to collect crucial data on mortality rates, morbidity rates, and vulnerable sections. Robotics and intelligent gadgets make it easier for patients to maintain regular contact with doctors for routine checkups and appointments rather than sitting in waiting rooms. According to Grand View Research, telehealth trends show that 2021 and beyond will see the development of many robust telehealth apps supported by AI technology.
Telehealth Trend to Watch #4:5G
Global System for Mobile Communications Association (GSMA) represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, uniting more than 750 operators with almost 400 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset and device makers, software companies, equipment providers, and internet companies, as well as organizations in adjacent industries sectors. GSMA believes the 5G network will have 1.2 billion connections by 2025, covering a third of the world population. Increased speed, lower latency, faster connections, and the ability to serve millions of connected devices within a mile radius are some of the benefits of 5G technology. Such advantages allow it to be a must-have for further breakthroughs in blockchain, AI, Big Data, robotics, and the like. The 5G telecom networks are likely to accelerate the advancement of telehealth in the post-pandemic period. In conjunction with 5G’s increased bandwidth and low latency, sending higher resolution images and videos will be possible, enhancing the quality and value of virtual interactions. Furthermore, 5G can address the limitations of 4G networks that hinder the widespread adoption of advanced telehealth solutions.
Telehealth Trend to Watch #5: Cybersecurity
As the world was grappling with the pandemic, the year 2020 saw a record-breaking number of cybersecurity intrusions, including phishing scams, data leaks, security breaches, and the like. As remote working became more prevalent, these attacks became more common. Security concerns arise from connected and wearable devices generating PHI data and transmitting it to the cloud. Connected health devices increase the risk of data leakage for consumers and providers alike. A device transmitting diagnostic information to a physician must ensure the integrity of that data as it becomes part of the patient’s record. Additionally, as patients send pictures or other data through telehealth sessions, it is crucial to consider HIPAA compliance. Therefore, it is evident from the telehealth trends that cybersecurity will become necessary in the post-pandemic era. It will help reduce the risk of cyber-attacks and prevent organizations and individuals from exploiting systems, networks, and technologies’ security vulnerabilities.
In the world turned upside down by the pandemic, there are endless possibilities. Covid-19 has uncovered flaws in every industry, pointing out weak links and showing us opportunities for improvement. Advanced technologies, if implemented correctly, can become the foundation of a great future.