Telehealth set for 'tsunami of growth,' says Frost & Sullivan
Telehealth is more in demand than ever during the coronavirus crisis, and a new report from Frost & Sullivan suggests its uptake will increase by 64.3% nationwide this year, given the disruptions of COVID-19.
But in the years ahead, virtual care and remote monitoring should truly take off, according to the report.
WHY IT MATTERS
According to the study, Telehealth: A Technology-Based Weapon in the War Against the Coronavirus, 2020, researchers predict that the pandemic will continue to reshape care delivery – and open big opportunities for virtual care in the near-term future.
Frost & Sullivan forecasts a sevenfold growth in telehealth by 2025 – a five-year compound annual growth rate of 38.2%.
This poses huge opportunities and challenges for providers and vendors alike. Among researchers' predictions: more user-friendly sensors and remote diagnostic equipment, enabling better patient outcomes. They also see more practical applications of AI and robotics, with advancements such as interactive virtual assistants enabling more opportunities for care.
Frost & Sullivan also sees more mature deployments in analytics, both now, during the COVID-19 emergency, and in the future; better adherence to cybersecurity and privacy regulations, and measurable data that shows telehealth's ROI – influencing even more lasting regulatory changes, beyond the expansions, enforcement discretion and allowances during the pandemic.
THE LARGER TREND
The research report's forecasts of enormous growth are borne out by some real-world stats, such as the ones seen recently at NYU Langone. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Informatics Association, virtual urgent care visits at the health system grew by 683%, and nonurgent virtual-care visits grew by a staggering 4,345% between March 2 and April 14.
"We will never go back to 50 [telehealth] visits a day," said NYU Langone CMIO Dr. Paul Testa. "That genie's out of the bottle."
At MedStar Health, meanwhile, the volume went from about two daily telehealth visits to 4,150 in just two months, with the health system rapidly rolling out tech that has enabled 100,000 virtual visits between March 13 and May 1.
Consumer opinions are changing too: Almost three-quarters of patients polled for one recent survey said they'd consider using telehealth to be remotely screened for COVID-19, and two-thirds said the pandemic has increased their willingness to try virtual care.
ON THE RECORD
"The critical need for social distancing among physicians and patients will drive unprecedented demand for telehealth, which involves the use of communication systems and networks to enable either a synchronous or asynchronous session between the patient and provider," said Victor Camlek, healthcare principal analyst at Frost & Sullivan.
He noted, however, that more education is needed: "Not all stakeholders need to remember that many people use the terms 'telehealth' or 'telemedicine' without understanding the ecosystem that is involved."
Going forward, he predicted, "virtual visits and remote patient monitoring will propel the overall market of telehealth, followed by mHealth and personal emergency response systems. Further, patients will benefit if data from RPM is fully available to virtual visit providers. This trend will demonstrate the benefit of integrated services. The trauma resulting from the COVID-19 crisis will lead to a clear growth opportunity for one-stop virtual-visit and RPM solutions."