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Telehealth platforms are revolutionizing healthcare, but are they here to stay?

Telehealth platforms are revolutionizing healthcare, but are they here to stay?

What happened to healthcare in 2020?

Telemedicine’s exponential growth is felt and seen everywhere. Large healthcare organizations are leveraging telemedicine solutions to connect their technology, provide better healthcare delivery, and make providers more efficient. When the pandemic’s isolation restrictions have waned and as the world returns to normal, will telemedicine remain at the forefront of healthcare delivery? Without a doubt, telemedicine has become the expectation and will likely have long-lasting effects on the healthcare industry.

Why is telemedicine here to stay?

Healthcare accessibility

Most healthcare is delivered in person, with patients spending an average of 121 minutes on any one healthcare visit. The opportunity cost of this visit– or the amount a patient would earn working the same amount of time– is roughly $43 dollars. These losses are critical, especially as more people are unable to access a healthcare provider close to them. There are only 2.7 providers per 1000 people in Canada, and 2.6 providers per 1000 people in the U.S. With in person care, patients are forced to travel longer and spend more money in an effort to find a healthcare provider. 

With telemedicine, patients with chronic health conditions or who live in remote areas can find the healthcare they need and receive quality, ongoing care. Telemedicine eliminates time and space barriers for providers and patients, by opening up opportunities for more accessible care. For example, Trafalgar Addiction Treatment Centres (Trafalgar) has leveraged OnCall to build a virtual addiction rehabilitation program that costs less than in-person care, and enables patients from all over Canada to access important mental health and addiction counselling. Previously, Trafalgar was only offering care to patients in Ontario or to patients who could afford to pause their daily lives for several weeks, including taking time off work. As Shane Saltzman, Trafalgar’s CEO, explains, “using OnCall means making mental healthcare support more accessible in a real, affordable way. This is how healthcare will be delivered in the future.”

Patient demand

Patients have embraced telemedicine’s benefits, convenience, and flexibility. They no longer have to take time off work, pay for a babysitter, or wait 10.5 weeks to see a healthcare provider. In fact, there has been a surge in demand for telemedicine, up 74 percent since 2020. Patients are accustomed to new standards of healthcare delivery and expect to receive care from their provider or specialist virtually. 

OnCall Health’s customer, Curv Health (Curv) has championed patient demand for telemedicine by launching a virtual program that enables patients to build their own provider network, including physiotherapists, dietitians, and mental health providers. With Curv, patients can save over 30% on healthcare costs and receive healthcare from a multitude of providers. With features that make the entire experience seamless for the patient, like digital intake, secure video conferencing, and online billing, Curv is making it convenient and flexible for patients to seek care at any time, from anywhere. Patient demand for telemedicine is rising, with 83% affirming their use of virtual healthcare services after the pandemic. With this in mind, it’s important for healthcare leaders to stay ahead of the curve and expand their in-person operations– by going digital with telemedicine– to boost patient accessibility, increase patient touchpoints, and build patient trust. 

Business Growth

Approximately 24 percent of in person healthcare can be delivered virtually, with organizations rapidly scaling their telehealth capabilities to care for 50 to 175 times the number of patients via telehealth than they did prior to the pandemic. With this in mind, healthcare organizations and clinics have the opportunity to develop new revenue streams to grow their organizations with telemedicine. One organization already taking action is Pyramid Healthcare Inc. (Pyramid), who leveraged OnCall’s platform to launch a new virtual healthcare division, Pyramid Online Counseling, in 2020. Pyramid expanded their brick and mortar operations to offer mental healthcare, addictions care, and behavioral treatment to patients across the U.S. with a secure and integrated telemedicine platform. Pyramid leaders saw over 1879 telemedicine appointments scheduled in just 2 months, with 998 percent quarterly growth in appointments scheduled overall. This growth has resulted in a surge of patients, revenue, and possibility for Pyramid Healthcare. 

So what’s next? 

Telemedicine will soon be considered just “healthcare”, and perhaps is already accepted as such.  However, in person care still has its place in the healthcare industry, with in person and telemedicine working together to create high-impact care experiences and better healthcare outcomes for patients. For example, Trafalgar has seen over 95 percent of patients graduate from their virtual program; however, they do realize the impact that weekly in person group sessions can have on patients who need support and guidance during their recovery. OnCall believes that telemedicine is a wise addition to an organization’s healthcare delivery toolbelt, and is an obvious prerequisite for both healthcare business growth and better patient outcomes. Telemedicine is here to stay, with 1 in 5 patients reporting that they would switch providers if it meant interacting via virtual appointment.