Telehealth - More Than Just A Pandemic Necessity
The healthcare industry is constantly evolving. More so than ever in the past year, where we saw a massive industry shift from in-person care to virtual care delivered via telehealth due to the worldwide pandemic. A shift that forced us to rely on a digital led society showing us that we are able to live in a blended digital and physical world.
The pandemic may have been the catalyst for telehealth adoption for most health care professionals, but even prior to COVID-19, some healthcare professionals had already begun adopting telehealth solutions in order to improve patient care, accessibility and remote patient monitoring. During the pandemic, video telehealth allowed patients and practitioners to conduct safe, reliable, secure and efficient consultations. Coviu specifically conducted over 3 million telehealth consultations in Australia alone. Fast forward to now, with many countries slowly return to a more ‘normal’ state with the roll-out of the vaccine, telehealth has made it’s mark and is on an upward trend to becoming permanent.
This comes with the Australian Government’s recent announcement in its support for telehealth with Health Minister Greg Hunt extending MBS items to the end of 2021. The Australian Government is investing an additional $204.6 million to support continued access to universal telehealth for all Australians, building on a prior investment of $3.6 billion since March 2020. The government stated, 'This is the next step in transitioning telehealth to become a permanent fixture of the post COVID-19 modernised health care system', meaning permanent implementation of telehealth MBS funding is not far off.
As of 1st July 2021, the Federal Government will drop 14 of the top paying COVID-19 phone consultation items for GPs, leaving in place only two MBS items, one for a short consult of less than six minutes and the other for consults less than 20 minutes.
In addition to the Government’s support, new research shows that video telehealth will outlast the pandemic as it provides so much more opportunity and accessibility for practitioners and patients. And here's the thing…Australians want it. Coviu’s recent study shows just that, finding that 70% of Aussies believe all GPs should offer video telehealth, with 44% saying they would switch GPs to one that offers video telehealth.
Overseas adoption of telehealth grew massively in the US during the pandemic, from 11% of US consumers using telehealth in 2019 to 46% of consumers using telehealth to replace cancelled healthcare visits. Practitioners were also seeing 50 to 175 more patients via telehealth than they did before the pandemic.
The pandemic has transformed the delivery of health care and highlighted the importance of providing access to non-face-to-face care to countries everywhere. With a large portion of healthcare visits being appropriate for video consultations, embracing telehealth is a huge business opportunity for practitioners and for patients. Its all about giving patients the choice, and offering convenient, accessible and high-quality video consultations to ensure better patient retention and a reduction in no-show rates.
Telehealth is more than just avoiding physical contact to avoid contamination and spreading of infection. This includes patients having access to on-demand specialists that may be booked out or based at a far distance, or those that are based interstate providing patients the opportunity and access to be seen sooner or even at all from the comfort of their own home. It even allows practitioners to continue to serve those patients that are travelling and ensures those patients keep their preferred practitioner whilst away, improving patient retention.
It also creates a competitive advantage for practices allowing practitioners to see more patients whilst extending the ability of patient reach to achieve greater health outcomes. It bridges the gap of health inequities including rural and remote living, access to people with a disability and the elderly and reduces waiting room and travel time. The productivity commission estimates patients spend 50 million excess hours in GP and Specialist waiting rooms, costing patients $900 million a year.
Telehealth also has the potential to allow practitioners to see more patients each day and allows practitioners to conduct their appointments in an efficient, easy, convenient and lower cost way. With technology constantly evolving there is not a lot that video telehealth can’t do. GPs are able to prescribe and conduct regular check ups via video telehealth, hand therapists are able to fit and create moulds, physios are able to provide exercises and diagnose with distance and measuring tools, psychologists are able to conduct their sessions picking up on body language and can administer digital psychological assessments all a while being able to deliver high quality healthcare.
Telehealth adoption alongside positive practitioner and patient experiences will be crucial to showing the long-term value of telehealth. Overcoming the barriers in accessing telehealth services are crucial including technological barriers and access to adequate internet.
Coviu can help you bridge the gap between these barriers with the software constantly developing and evolving with feature-rich tools that replicate brick and mortar clinics. Features include:
Virtual waiting rooms
Online appointment bookings
In-built clinical tools such as whiteboard, annotations, screen share and video players.
A constantly growing apps marketplace that includes clinical assessments, artificial intelligence diagnostic tools, access on-demand interpreters and more.
With Coviu software seamlessly fitting into any healthcare business, large or small there is no better time to integrate it with your business model. While navigating the current and future environment, Coviu is continuing to drive the adoption of secure, reliable and efficient video telehealth.
Sign up to a free two week trial today, no credit card required - and get started with Coviu.