With the onset of COVID-19, health providers had to adapt how they provided care for their patients. Where many physicians had been reluctant to start incorporating telehealth into their practices, they had no choice back in 2020 at the height of the pandemic. To give you a numerical example, in 2019, 8% of consumers reported using telehealth. In 2020 the number was 22%, with the majority of those visits being the patient’s first telehealth appointment. Telehealth is used across all medical disciplines, with psychiatry and mental health providers using it the most. While the COVID-19 restrictions have lightened since 2020, telehealth is here to stay. In this article, we’ll be discussing some of the top telehealth trends to expect in 2022.
Hybrid Healthcare Models
In many areas of life, we are seeing a merging of the virtual and real world. For example, shoppers can purchase clothing online, and then return those items to a brick-and-mortar store down the street. This merging is happening in healthcare, and we see examples of this when a patient has a telehealth visit with their primary physician and then goes to the drug store to pick up their medication, or to a lab to have their blood drawn. According to Oliver Wyman, “hybrid care models combine virtual and in-person experiences across the full continuum of care. As patients go through treatment care pathways, in-person elements-procedures, labs, imaging, immunizations-can be seamlessly combined with virtual elements which might include remote monitoring or a telehealth visit with a specialist from home.”. In-person appointments are still necessary and important, but hybrid care offers many benefits for both patient and provider, including lower costs and more convenience.
Hospital Care at Home
Patients requiring acute medical care now have more options than just a stay in the ICU. According to the American Hospital Association, “As hospitals reconsider how and where they deliver care to patients, many are seeing the hospital-at-home model as a promising approach to improve value. Hospital-at-home enables some patients who need acute-level care to receive care in their homes, rather than in a hospital. This care delivery model has been shown to reduce costs, improve outcomes and enhance the patient experience.”.
Many major hospitals have hospital-at-home programs, including nationally known names like Johns Hopkins Hospital and Mount Sinai Hospital. Johns Hopkins created its hospital-at-home program to better assist elderly patients who were reluctant to come into the hospital for treatment, or who were at a higher risk of infection. During its early trials, the program demonstrated a 32% decrease in costs, the length of treatment was reduced by one-third and the rate of complications was 15% lower compared to patients in the hospital. In addition, patients had a much better experience with hospital-at-home compared to an inpatient stay.
Continued Patient Demand
While COVID-19 restrictions have loosened for most of us in 2021, and patients begin to return to their doctor’s offices, there is still a large demand for telehealth care from multiple segments of the population. It’s nothing like the huge spike seen during the height of the pandemic in 2020 when many health care providers were forced to take their entire practices online. The number of office and outpatients that were performed virtually in 2020 rose to 32%. In comparison, as of July 2021, that number was 13-17%. This is, however, still a large increase in telehealth use if compared to pre-pandemic numbers.
And, according to a recent survey, people want to continue using telehealth. For the survey, users were asked if they would be using telehealth in the future, yes, no, or maybe. Interestingly, the population least likely to want to keep using telehealth, the baby boomers, showed more interest than expected, with users from this demographic responding over 50% in favor of telehealth. The generation gap is wide, however. 83% of millennials chose yes as their answer. Gen Z came in at 73%, and Gen X at 51%. To sum up, most of the people who used telehealth in 2021 plan on using it more in 2022. The younger generations are more open to telehealth, but baby boomers will use it when it meets their needs. Patient approval ratings for telehealth are expected to increase in 2022.
Telehealth from BioFunctional Solutions
BioFunctional Health Solutions (BHS) is a leader in the telehealth industry and offers advanced telehealth solutions for employee health. BHS has been utilizing telehealth with its clients to reduce healthcare costs while offering an increase in quality of care. Telehealth visits are convenient and save your employees and your organization time and money. Receiving medical care virtually eliminates the need for employees to leave work, or spend the time and money to drive to an office. Statistics show that billions of work hours are lost due to medical appointments. Telehealth appointments are available to anyone with internet access, making it easy to connect with specialists who might not be in your local area. Improve your organization’s bottom line while offering your employees top-of-the-line medical care from BHS. Contact us today to get started.