THE STATE OF VIRTUAL CARE IN THE US: The coronavirus is pushing telehealth into the mainstream — here's how traditional healthcare players are using it to retain business now and where the market is headed
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The coronavirus pandemic has been a watershed moment for telehealth — or the use of mobile technology to deliver health-related services, such as remote doctor consultations and patient monitoring — as patients have had to reimagine the ways they seek healthcare.
While telehealth has been on the brink of taking off for years, consumer usage of the tech ticked up slowly before 2020. The coronavirus pandemic has given consumers the push they need to adopt telemedicine on a wide scale — and we expect adoption to keep climbing so long as the pandemic rages on. Once outbreaks became severe in the US, consumers began flocking to telehealth: Telehealth usage among US adults climbed 6 percentage points month-over-month from February 2020 — when 11% of respondents reported having tried telehealth — to March — when 17% said the same, per a survey by CivicScience. And we expect adoption to continue climbing to reach 22% of US adults by June.
As many patients are being urged to stay home and avoid seeking out nonurgent medical care in-person, providers, payers, and clinical researchers have been forced to restrategize to ensure their customers' needs are being met — and they're increasingly leaning on telehealth. Hospitals and physicians offices have had to invest in and ramp up telemedicine services to make sure that they're able to reach their patients, private and government-sponsored payers are lengthening the lists of virtual services they'll reimburse clinicians for, and pharma companies and researchers have had to restrategize the ways they conduct visits with participants.
In this report, Business Insider Intelligence explains how the coronavirus pandemic has fast-tracked the implementation and use of virtual care channels in the US. We outline the benefits that virtual care offers for players across the healthcare ecosystem — including health systems, payers, and clinical researchers. Next, we examine where the market is headed, including forecasting telehealth adoption in 2020 and beyond, outlining the key drivers behind usage and adoption, and unpacking our predictions regarding funding and mergers we expect to see in the space. Finally, we identify barriers that stand in the way of sustained adoption post-pandemic.
The companies mentioned in this report are: 98point6, AbleTo, Aetna, AiCure, AliveCor, Alphabet, Amazon, Amwell, Anthem, Apple, Biofourmis, Blue Shield of California, BlueCross Blue Shield of Tennessee, Boeing, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Chipotle, Cigna, Circle K, Cleveland Clinic, Doctor on Demand, Fitbit, GE Healthcare, Google, Google Nest, GreatCall,, HCA Healthcare, Humana, InTouch Health, Iora Health, Kindercare, MDLive, MedicalAlert, Microsoft,, Mount Sinai, One Medical, Philips, Plushcare, Samsung, Science 37, Pfizer, Teladoc, UnitedHealthcare,, Verizon, Vertex, VirTrial, and Zipnosis.
Here are some key takeaways from this report:
- The coronavirus pandemic has catalyzed a major telehealth boom, and as long as outbreaks continue to crop up throughout the US, telehealth adoption rates will continue to soar. Even once outbreaks subside, we think a sizable share of consumers will remain tethered to the convenience virtual care efforts.
- Telehealth presents opportunities for providers, payers, and and pharma companies: Providers can use the tech retain business and hook in revenue as practices remain closed or at lighter in-person capacity; payers can ensure their members healthcare needs are being met; and clinical researchers and pharma companies can keep track of patients who are unable to venture into trial sites for visits.
- As telehealth vendors become more central to the healthcare landscape, we expect recent upticks in funding for these startups and M&A activity in the telehealth space to carry on throughout 2020.
- We think tech behemoths Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft won't want to miss out on the telehealth opportunity as they expand deeper into healthcare — and we anticipate to see these four dig deeper into the virtual care space.
- Barriers including poor interoperability, regulation that differs state-by-state, and lack of consumer access to connectivity continue to weigh on telehealth's potential to reach wide-scale penetration.
In full, the report:
- Provides an overview of the ways in which the coronavirus pandemic is forcing providers', payers', and pharma companies' hands to build out telehealth services — and how this is spurring broader-scale adoption among consumers.
- Highlights how leading telehealth vendors have reacted to a sudden, rapid uptick in adoption of their services.
- Outlines what we expect to see in the telehealth market through 2020 — and our predictions for consumer adoption.
- Identifies the barriers that are still in place that are weighing on sustained, wide-scale telehealth adoption.
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