The future of healthcare has become inextricably linked with ongoing developments in telehealth. With telehealth services now being offered at 38 times the pre-pandemic rate and dozens of states having altered healthcare policies to include telehealth coverage, University Business reports that medical schools must begin to offer telehealth-specific training to students so they can be prepared to offer the best care for patients. The Cancer Network says that patients receiving cancer treatment have experienced enhanced communication and continuity of care through telehealth services since the start of the pandemic, with the hope that new legislation will allow that virtual care to continue.
Read on for our monthly roundup of the most significant developments in telehealth:
As telehealth services continue to become widely adopted across the healthcare community, medical schools are beginning to offer telehealth-specific training. From learning how to properly conduct virtual interactions with patients to correctly administering visual exams online, future medical students will need the proper telehealth training to provide the best patient care.
Since the start of the pandemic, there has been a significant increase in the number of states improving access to telehealth coverage. Looking at state’s telehealth coverage policies between March 2020 and March 2021, a Commonwealth Fund study revealed that audio-only telehealth services will now be covered in 21 states, and many states are moving towards limiting cost-sharing for telehealth patients.
Patients receiving hematology and oncology treatment have reported satisfaction with switching to telehealth services during the pandemic. Telehealth video and telephonic services have led to better continuity of care, enhanced communication, and improved treatment adherence, according to patients receiving cancer treatment. While many telehealth policies are due to expire, the continued use of telehealth to treat cancer patients will be essential to providing optimal care.
A recent survey by Medusind found that 66% of healthcare organizations will continue to provide telehealth services after the pandemic, and indicated the potential savings on overhead as a motivation for practices to continue offering telehealth consultations. One survey respondent indicated that one of the surprises of telehealth was “how many patients actually prefer it versus coming into the office.”
Exploring new data from the past year, a study by McKinsey and Company revealed that telehealth services are now being offered at 38 times the rate before the pandemic. As of April, telehealth services are provided by 84% of doctors, and 57% said they would like to continue offering it. And venture capital funding for digital healthcare continues to grow, with $14.7 billion already brought in during the first half of this year.