Telehealth After COVID-19: One-Hit Wonder, or The Next Big Thing?

In the days before the coronavirus, before the American healthcare system turned to telehealth in response to the widespread closures of hospitals, clinics, and solo practitioner offices, telemedicine visits amounted to less than one percent of all Medicare patient consultations. At the height of the emergency, that usage had ballooned to more than 40 percent.

The brick and mortar healthcare facilities that survived the shutdowns have largely resumed operations. This leads to the question: Is telehealth and telemedicine boom here to stay, or will doctor visits go back to where it was before its sudden popularity?

The Public Health Emergency May be Ending, But the Need for Telehealth Isn’t

Doubts about whether telehealth can hold its gains in the face of returning competition from inpatient visits to physical facilities have centered on whether the telehealth reimbursement-friendly changes to Medicare CMS and CPT codes – which were meant to last only for the duration of the emergency – will indeed come to an end, and whether health insurers will roll back their own emergency-based telehealth reimbursement changes.

Statements and actions by CMS leadership and members of Congress suggest that the emergency measures will become permanent. The answer to the question of what health insurers will do is less clear, but one thing is certain: healthcare providers, employers, and patients have experienced the benefits of telemedicine, and they’re not interested in going back.

People Know a Good Thing When They Experience It

The proof is in the numbers: four of every five employers in a recent survey said that telehealth will be a significant part of healthcare delivery in the future, compared with one in four who believed that in 2018. More than half of those survey respondents said that they expect to provide more virtual care options to their employees, including expanding telemedicine offerings into mental as well as physical health.

Patients, too, want to use telemedicine more. This is true of Medicare patients: according to a different survey, two-thirds of them are comfortable with virtual visits to the doctor and want to see more use of telemedicine for follow-up visits.

We can’t speak to the intentions of health insurers about whether they will maintain their improved reimbursement rates for telemedicine. But we do know that where strong public, patient, and provider demand goes, the healthcare industry will follow, and insurers follow the industry.

CareClix is Your Telemedicine Solution for Your Patients, Now and in the Future

The need for telehealth to continue to supplement inpatient visits is not going to go away if the opinions of healthcare providers, employers, and patients are indicative. CareClix provides a comprehensive range of telemedicine software packages for all levels of telemedicine providers, from solo practitioners who need to get started quickly with minimal startup costs to enterprise organizations that need to balance telehealth operations across multiple facilities and need a customized white-label branding option.

Contact us to find out more about how CareClix can be your bridge into the future of providing healthcare by telemedicine. Or, call us at 1 (855)-CARECLX.