The IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science, a multinational health information technology and research company, published Telehealth Transformation: Moving from Crisis Response to Population Health Solutions, which highlights telemedicine trends during the COVID-19 outbreak and illuminates opportunities to expand telehealth to support population health management.
According to data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), weekly telemedicine visits were at 14,000 per week pre-pandemic, jumping to 1.7 million per week in the last week of April 2020. While in-person visits have resumed, numbers still remain high.
Telemedicine rates prior to the pandemic made up less than 1% of medical visits, but they have increased ten-fold during the pandemic. Also of note: pre-pandemic, a majority of telemedicine visits were focused on mental health. While such visits have increased, telemedicine has come to mirror broader populations, with chronic conditions like hypertension and diabetes contributing to more visits.
The report also goes into detail how telemedicine can benefit four different patient populations, including:
- Elderly patients
- Chronic disease patients
- Immunocompromised patients
- Behavioral health patients
The 58-page report contains several insights and areas of opportunity, specifically highlighting how other aspects of telemedicine, beyond virtual visits, can benefit patients via the use of other technologies. Key highlights include:
- 4 in 10 physicians are, at best, only “somewhat comfortable” with current technology
- Cognitive artificial intelligence (AI) products can initiate conversations to help elderly patients stay in touch with family or loved ones, and engage in healthy behaviors, such as medication adherence
- Interoperable patient engagement platforms can help with care coordination
- Disease detection and progression analytics can help with prevention and detection measures for chronic disease populations and immunocompromised populations
- Wearable devices can be used on a variety of patients to record health metrics, where AI functionality can check for inconsistencies in biometric data
- Digital health apps can help mental health patients cope with symptoms, offering calming repetitive actions for addictions or to nurture behavior modification