By Terry Rowinski
We’re at a critical juncture in evaluating the role of the healthcare system in American life.
For years, we’ve been embattled in a healthcare debate that’s caused deep political division. More recently, we’ve experienced the worst pandemic this country has seen in at least a century and an ensuing economic recession. Experts estimate that anywhere from 25 million to 43 million people will lose their health insurance due to job loss, further encouraging the rallying cry to revolutionize healthcare.
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The COVID-19 pandemic has already made a deep and lasting impact on people’s health and the economy. While it is a crisis for our industry, it’s also an opportunity. There is much room for improvement, particularly when it comes to the consumer experience aspect of healthcare.
New technology will become mainstream quickly
The COVID-19 pandemic has fast-tracked new and developing technology that can help providers offer patients quality care without risking further exposure.
For example, smartwatches and devices utilize the Internet of Things (IoT) to enable healthcare providers to monitor their patients’ health stats at any time (theoretically). IoT technology is just beginning to be used at scale in blood glucose monitors, pill dispensers, temperature monitors, digital scales, bioimpedance devices and more – offering extraordinary untapped potential.
With a patient’s health data readily available, physicians can create a virtual representation or “digital twin” of a patient. Using this digital twin, doctors can track a patient’s health over time to spot any abnormalities; for example, to track a patient’s recovery after surgery. This technology provides a critical opportunity for provider care amid social distancing.
By adopting healthcare trends like these, providers can make remote care more mainstream, allowing them to continue treating patients while limiting in-office care.
Telehealth is here to stay
Many providers had already implemented some kind of telehealth option before March 2020, even though not all insurance providers – including Medicare and Medicaid – were willing to cover it. As we’ve seen recently, telehealth both meets customer demand for convenience and limits exposure amid the pandemic.
In the first weeks of the pandemic, many insurance networks lifted their restrictions on telehealth, giving providers and their patients a greater opportunity to realize the benefits. Now that more consumers have experienced the convenience of remote visits, it will be hard to put the genie back in the bottle.