Reimagining the Future of Telemedicine in a Post-COVID World

As with any healthcare innovation that is disruptive in nature, it takes validation and time, as well as the right catalyst before it gets completely embraced by the global community as a feasible solution. With the ongoing COVID-19 global health emergency, one such innovation that acquired center stage for being highly functional and transformed healthcare delivery in a never-seen-before manner was telemedicine.  

Just last year, telemedicine grew from less than 1% of primary care visits to nearly 43.5% in a mere span of two months (February to April). 

With telemedicine’s current rapid adoption rate and trajectory, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that this state-of-the-art innovation holds the potential to turn the medical industry completely upside-down, redefining the way in which health systems deliver care, operate, and manage costs. This will further set the foundation for a highly optimized and tailored healthcare experience in the future.

To illustrate the impact telemedicine will make in the future, we have come up with a few predictions backed by robust statistical data. 

1) Telemedicine will Become a Standard Service Offered across all Care Settings

Healthcare leaders across the globe are increasingly realizing telemedicine’s potential. 

One recent survey conducted by the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions in collaboration with the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) found that close to 50% of the total number of healthcare executives interviewed thought at least a quarter of all outpatient care, preventive care, long-term care, and well-being services would move to virtual delivery by 2040.

Not only has telemedicine been the most sought-after health tech innovation of recent times, but waivers from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have made it possible for providers to begin implementing this technology with minimal resources and restrictions in place, resulting in its skyrocketing adoption over the past one year alone. 

While the waivers currently in effect are likely to be withdrawn once the pandemic subsides, elected officials will have good reason to contemplate more lasting regulatory changes given how providers can use telehealth expansion to make care more accessible across specialties. 

This is especially true because telehealth is one solution that has successfully demonstrated its potential on the majority of healthcare fronts - from streamlining primary care visits, to making specialized care more accessible for people with chronic conditions, and furnishing robust data security to patients’ health records and other confidential information. 

Therefore, industry experts are continually urging Congress to address the geographic expansion of telehealth access post-COVID. In case that happens, amendments to current reimbursement policies will soon follow. Once these measures are fully implemented, telemedicine adoption will become accelerated further across all care settings and specialties.

2) Telemedicine will Become an Efficient Option for Preventative Care

Today, chronic disease management continues to be one of the biggest challenges for both healthcare providers and their patients across the country. 

One recent study shows that nearly half of all adults in the US have a chronic disease and almost 33% of the population is living with more than one chronic disease. Just about 7 chronic diseases, namely – cancer, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, stroke, pulmonary conditions and mental illness – have a total impact on the US economy of close to $1.3 trillion annually.

Telemedicine has emerged as an effective solution on this front. Physicians and specialists can use mobile devices, live audio and video, mHealth apps, and other smart digital tools to monitor a patient’s condition from a distance and at any given point in time. 

For instance, developing a healthcare mobile app that tracks vital signs and keeps a live record of an individual’s exercise, diet and medication regimen would be a great way to boost patient engagement levels and improve patient compliance with medical treatment plans.

Integrating such a healthcare app with telemedicine software would allow physicians access to this vital data when consulting with patients and leverage data-driven decision making to boost the overall health outcomes.

Therefore, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that telemedicine is soon set to become an efficient option for healthcare providers willing to expand their reach and accommodate preventive care delivery within their modules.

3) Patients will Make Medical Choices based on Telemedicine Access 

Telehealth provides patients and health stakeholders with the ability to advance data interoperability (through EHR integration) and carry out personalized interactions in a remote setting. This can allow for high-quality, convenient access to care that can greatly enhance provider-patient communication in the long run.

As per findings of one recent survey conducted by, close to 83% of patients say they are likely to continue using telemedicine after COVID-19 subsides.

Once patients start seeing what telemedicine has to offer and feel the quality of care is equivalent to but more convenient than an in-person office visit, even from the comfort of their own homes; those same patients will no longer be willing to endure long wait times whenever it can be avoided.

Patients who are homebound, or who live in remote locations, or just can’t take time off their busy schedules to go see a provider in person, should be allowed to access care virtually. Smartphone apps, video conferencing, and online management systems have just scratched the surface of what is eventually possible. There remains much more to be explored on the virtual care front.

Telehealth is already reinventing the process of healthcare delivery and transforming patient expectations for all facets of this vital industry.

With patients growing more accustomed to virtual care given the convenience these systems offer, healthcare organizations that lack telemedicine access are bound to observe lower patient volumes as patients prioritize providers that offer telemedicine over those that do not.

Therefore, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that telemedicine adoption will become increasingly important in order to survive and grow your healthcare practice in a post-COVID world.

Telemedicine has emerged as an effective solution in times when no one is truly certain about what the future holds.

Healthcare organizations looking at leveraging this state-of-the-art technological innovation should also simultaneously be on the lookout for ways they can augment its functionality.  Remember, technology is only as helpful as one envisions it to be.

About the Author

Leo Langlois's picture

Dr. Leo P. Langlois is an extensively experienced board certified physician and surgeon, graduated from brown university medical school, completed residency training at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and fellowship trained at University of California Davis with over 27 years of experience treating chronic disabling conditions and chronic intractable pain who has run a successful private practice in Bakersfield, California since 2003.

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