Telehealth Trends in 2020: Telehealth has become more relevant in 2020. The coronavirus outbreak has discouraged most people from visiting the clinics, making them opt for healthcare services through mobile apps or over the phone.
However, telemedicine has also been convenient and beneficial even before the COVID 19 outbreak. It has made healthcare more convenient and accessible, especially for the rural communities living away from healthcare facilities.
The good thing is that many trends in recent years have shaped telehealth. So here, we have discussed the changes in 2020 and those who can take place in upcoming years.
Introduction of New Therapies
While telehealth might be a temporary solution for some organizations, many others have recognized the long-term advantages telehealth has to deliver for patients and the healthcare industry. Many users have lauded the convenience and accessibility of using telehealth—including saving time and hassle associated with the waiting room, minimized commuting, ease of scheduling, and keeping appointments.
With telehealth platforms are backed by sophisticated technology, some facilities have started providing group behavioral therapy sessions to reflect a traditional in-person group session. Moreover, intensive services such as medication-assisted therapy, cognitive processing therapy, or prolonged exposure therapy for PTSD can also be given through telehealth.
Complete Virtual Healthcare Centers
As North America has many rural areas, delivering entirely virtual facilities ensures a new level of access for patients who require mental or behavioral healthcare but live away from a physical healthcare facility. Virtual healthcare is not plagued with the same geographical barriers and distance that traditional facilities are subject to. A virtual center provides the platform to the patient to access their services no matter where they are living.
Increased Focus on Security
Telehealth trends in 2020: The benefits of telehealth could be dented by security and privacy risks.
According to the report published by a medical malpractice insurance firm, the top five “major risks” listed in the news: Telehealth “increases cyber liability, especially when providers are seeing patients from a variety of devices in a variety of locations.”
Threat actors looking to steal patient data are not a new threat to healthcare or telehealth. But before COVID 19, telehealth made up only a small part of medical visits. Starting in March, however, many healthcare services suddenly shifted to a virtual model, supported by the government’s temporary relief of HIPAA restrictions on telehealth. Many providers start conducting visits on unsecured lines at home. Let’s discuss more Telehealth Trends in 2020.
Connecting with patients via telehealth and transmitting biometric data through a remote care device can increase these risks. The biggest threat is that patients have not to control the collection, usage, and sharing of their PHI.
Sensors placed in a patient’s home or that interact with the patient’s body to detect safety issues or health emergencies might inadvertently capture sensitive data about household activities. Likewise, routine data transmissions from an app or medical equipment, such as an insulin pump, might be provided to a third party.
The lack of security and privacy protection in telehealth systems can make people lose trust in telehealth solutions. Although the deposit is assured through some federal and state regulations for telehealth security and privacy, there are still many loopholes. No national body has the authority to impose privacy and security guidelines to cover the telehealth process.
Therefore, working over data security has also been a critical telehealth trend in 2020. By picking a secure and HIPPA-compliant telehealth solution to perform remote sessions, the improved security that comes with these devices or tools can minimize the risk. As the healthcare industry is an easy target for cyber criminal due to the sensitive information exchanged, it is important to opt for a reliable platform and educate staff on cybersecurity and steps they can take to create an added layer of security.
Identity authentication is also put into practice to make data access only to authorized individuals. For example, multi-factor authentication or the requirement of using two pieces of evidence to log-in is the most common and most effective in reducing 99.9% of all cyber-attacks. It also calls for strong, unique passwords for telehealth accounts. We can hope that cybersecurity will get more improved and stronger to ensure data protection to the patients and healthcare facilities.
More Insurers to Cover Telemedicine
As telemedicine has started becoming a norm, insurers and government-supported health care programs are coming forward to cover such care, especially in this uncertain time.
Medicare has started covering remote patient monitoring and telehealth services, such as remote monitoring, the heart function from home. This can make telehealth more acceptable as there was little to no telehealth coverage in the past years.
Moreover, 34 states and Washington, DC, have allowed private insurers to cover telemedicine services. (source: ATA)
The Rise of Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence or AI has been used in most industries, and healthcare is no exception. A growing number of healthcare providers are investing in AI-based software. For instance, the software can help identify pulmonary nodules in chest X-rays and figure out where moles are harmful.
AI can be used in many ways in the telehealth domain. Here are some of them…
- Analyzing medical records and other data such as medical history. AI can conduct data management and digital automation to offer dependable access.
- AI can automate manual and repetitive tasks such as analyzing tests, conducting X rays, CT scans, and performing other tasks. With AI doing all these tasks, healthcare departments can focus on dealing with emergency and complicated cases.
- AI can help healthcare providers diagnose, treat, and monitor their patient’s progress at the comfort of their clinic. It depends on machine learning to provide support for patients with chronic conditions.
The doctors of tomorrow are being trained to use virtual healthcare in conjunction with their conventional medical education. The doctors can be taught about AI, clinical information, and other things to familiarize them with telehealth.
Telehealth Devices are On the Way to Become an Industry
Given the boom in the telehealth industry, telemedicine devise and peripherals can become an industry. In the past two years, various equipment that supports telehealth, such as biometric scales and technologies for in-home monitoring, have dominated the medical device market.
The upcoming year can see the integration of many of these devices into medical practices and care plans. What’s even more impressive is the new innovative telehealth equipment created.
For instance, as more aged adults want to age in place, equipment manufacturers can provide more sophisticated tools to meet their needs, such as telemonitoring tools that capture room motion and respond if a person has fallen or a sudden lack of activity.
Telehealth will continue to surge in 2020 and beyond, led by sophisticated measures that are increasingly making telehealth an attractive care option for a health plan, patients, and providers. It simply means that telehealth is here to stay while the virtual health care model is being taken seriously. This is beneficial for the patients living away from the healthcare facilities or someone who needs immediate care for non-emergency cases like cough and cold during odd hours. I think a lot of things I have covered about Telehealth Trends in 2020
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