Technology during the coronavirus pandemic has kept families and providers in safe socially distanced contact. Despite some concerns regarding the future of telehealth regulation, telehealth will stay with us, even after the pandemic has passed. Telehealth will continue to be a good tool for providers and patients, especially for those under-served communities.
Telehealth is here to stay
Providers and patients can expect that remote medicine options are here to stay. 47% of respondents to the 2021 Hospice Industry Outlook Report indicated remote medicine technology would be a major benefit to reducing costs and improving care. Temporary suspension of some restrictions due to the pandemic has caused an increase in investment and usage of remote medicine options. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) are reviewing the temporary restrictions to determine which can be made permanent. The outlook of telehealth is very positive.
Teleheath is growing
Providers’ patients now expect to have remote medicine options. Pre-pandemic, remote health usage was already increasing. Since 2020, demand and usage for remote health options have skyrocketed. According to CMS, 80% of caregivers would give a hospice provider a higher rating if they employed remote medicine and real-time communication options. About half of providers use a digital platform. The growth of remote health options is expected to increase.
Investment is needed
There are still major challenges, however. Deployment of technology requires investment and training. Training staff to use any new technology can be challenging. Integration of technology platforms, either built in-house or via partnership, will need to be integrated into the provider’s EMR. This can be a costly and difficult challenge. However, this streamlining process will be the biggest cost reduction effort in adopting remote medicine options.
Telehealth improves outcomes
Adopting a remote medicine strategy has costs. However, the reduction of in-home visits, cutting down travel time, and tighter integration into EMR coupled with the increase in staff and patient satisfaction make deployment of remote medicine options a win-win. Hospice and palliative care outcomes can improve by helping as many people as possible in a sustainable way.