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Telehealth Trends to Watch in 2020

Telehealth has been introduced as this new, disruptive trend that is blazing through healthcare. Truth is, Telehealth isn’t new at all.

Opinions differ as to the official birthday of telehealth, but some say it originated in the early 1900s in the Netherlands with the transmission of heart rhythms via telephone. (Maher, et al, 2018). Fast-forward just a few years and a few innovations…and the industry is seeing a sharp increase in both recognition and usage for telehealth applications. In fact, it may be nothing new, but the past ten years or so have certainly seen it being introduced, utilized and valued by an increasing number of organizations, from emergency departments to medical offices to even schools, global aid organizations, and even the military.

So what’s next for the industry? Well, it seems like 2020 is going to be quite an exciting and innovative year for Telehealth.

For a clearer picture of the current state of the telehealth industry, let’s look at the numbers.

  • 74%- Percentage of people surveyed that said they are willing to use telehealth services
  • 21%- Percentage of rural hospitals at high risk of closing due to decreased population- a number that could be greatly reduced by the implementation of telehealth
  • 76%- Percentage of patients surveyed who say they find access to healthcare more important than in-person appointments
  • $21 Billion- the estimated industry revenue in 2017
  • $96 Billion- projected industry revenue by 2026

So now that telehealth has solidified its place in healthcare, it’s time to look at what’s next. While there are many telehealth trends on the horizon, these are the top five to watch…

  1. Reimbursement– while telehealth is grown exponentially in the past few years, reimbursement has sometimes lagged. Currently, Medicare covers a limited amount of codes, mostly for rural providers, in areas such as behavioral health and chronic care management. However, 2020 looks promising for a sizeable expansion of reimbursement, as we continue to see a “growing recognition of the utility and value of telehealth.” (Boese, 2019)
  2. Consolidation and Standardizations – There are hundreds of telehealth solutions that hospitals can adopt, but then at the end of the year you have a stack of bills on your desk. What if there is just one? In 2020, expect Telehealth software to begin consolidating in order to standardize processes.
  3. State to State Participation– the level of acceptance for telehealth varies from state to state, largely owing to differing regulations and practices. However, states are beginning to work together to, as Boese explains, “reduce barriers in coverage and increase access.” To date, 24 states have joined the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact (IMLC), and 31 states have joined the enhanced Nursing Licensure Compact (eNLC), both of which aim to ease the use of telehealth across state borders.
  4. Increased usersTelehealth began as an innovate method for specific personas. In 2020 telehealth will begin to be available to all types of personas. No longer are the days of just have a sole user using the telehealth solution to track data. It’s time to focus on team communications and efficient workflows.
  5. Policy Changes– With ever-increasing recognition by the Federal government, ease of use and reimbursement should be evident in the next year. There is also a push for increased use of telehealth services in the behavioral health field, as previous and current applications continue to be extremely successful for both patients and providers. Telehealth is also set to be tested as a Medicare Demo in 2020, which could greatly open up the field for patients across the country.

We’ve come a long way since the early 1900’s, and it looks like we’re set to go even further in the coming year!

About GD (General Devices)
GD enables smarter patient care by empowering hospitals, EMS, community healthcare and public safety with the most comprehensive, interactive, configurable, affordable, and integrated FDA listed medical communication and mobile telemedicine solutions. The benefits of which are enhanced workflows, minimized risk, reduced costs and improved patient outcomes. Learn more at www.general-devices.com