By Dr. Lewis Levy, Teladoc, Inc.
When we look at healthcare on a global scale, the issues of access, quality, and value are universal. In 2017, we saw more patients, employers, health systems, payers, and providers turn to virtual care for resolution to a growing range of health issues. With its ability to address a wide range of objectives for a diverse audience across healthcare, the virtual delivery of care is primed for even wider adoption and progress in 2018 as its potential is further realized. Here are eight predictions for virtual care delivery in 2018.
As employers, health plans, and health systems face escalating pressures for cost containment, access, and patient satisfaction, organizations will look even more to their virtual care provider to deliver solutions that tackle these needs head-on. Significant advancements in technology, analytics and care delivery offer unprecedented value that can be derived from virtual care delivery systems in the form of financial savings, engagement and satisfaction, and improved health outcomes.
As 90 percent of adults under the age of 65 have smartphones today, consumers are leveraging personal devices and remote services to take control of their healthcare journey at an increasing rate, embracing digital health in their everyday lives. In fact, research shows that two-thirds of Americans either have or are open to using mobile health apps to manage their health. From fitness trackers, to smart thermometers and virtual assistants, the prevalence of digital health among consumers has reached an inflection point. As consumer comfort with digital health gives way to reliance on these tools, telehealth will fill the care gap with far greater and more convenient access to quality care.
Diagnosing and treating chronic conditions and complex cases consumes roughly 84 percent of healthcare dollars in the U.S. alone. Through a powerful combination of analytics to pinpoint care needs, cognitive computing to ensure accuracy, and a single point of convenient access to leading specialists across the globe, virtual care delivery provides an innovative tool to address the escalating impact of chronic conditions and complex cases.
As hospitals and health systems redefine the consumer experience to move toward value-based healthcare, telehealth has been identified as a key long-term solution for health systems to build their competitive market positioning and reduce financial risks. It’s no surprise that 76 percent of health systems have or will be implementing consumer telehealth in some capacity by December 2018.
The world is abuzz with renewed excitement about the potential artificial intelligence (AI) might have on healthcare transformation. Artificial intelligence presents a grand frontier for health care. Those who are able to truly succeed in this area and demonstrate improved outcomes with AI will be those who have identified how to successfully marry AI to medical excellence. Cognitive computing is only as good as the data that goes in and the experts that interpret what comes out. Without a foundation of medical quality, big data, analytics, and cognitive services fall short and could ultimately be misused in areas where mistakes are already far too prevalent.
These eight predictions remind us that 2018 is set to be a landmark year in virtual care delivery, as the numbers are expected to see an even greater rise. In 2017, Teladoc completed more than 7,000 virtual health visits in a single day. To put this into perspective, 7,000 e-visits is more than the total number of patients seen in one day by the country’s five largest hospital emergency departments combined. As virtual care delivery grows, so do the expectations that surround it. The year ahead should help us realize a new level of value, access, utilization, security, and quality through virtual care delivery.
About The Author
Dr. Lewis Levy serves as Chief Medical Officer at Teladoc, Inc., the first and largest virtual care delivery solution. In addition to over 25 years of clinical experience, Dr. Levy also has an extensive teaching career as an instructor at Harvard Medical School.