Healthcare Is Slowly Moving Out Of Hospitals & Into Homes
The Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic has reshaped society’s understanding of ideal healthcare delivery. During the height of the pandemic and amidst sweeping social isolation measures, billions of people worldwide stayed inside their homes. For many, this transformed daily life in numerous ways— ranging from the way people shopped, to how they worked and interacted with others. One of the most significant effects of this phenomenon, however, was the newfound approach many took towards healthcare: one which emphasized patient convenience above all else.
This phenomenon has quickly given rise to innovations in telehealth and virtual care, with companies such as Teladoc and Amwell seeing massive interest and investment to grow their virtual healthcare services. In fact, a recent study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) found that there was a “63-Fold Increase in Medicare Telehealth Utilization During the Pandemic.”
Although there are significant challenges yet to be overcome with these virtual care modalities, the growth in this sector has been promising. As larger industry players and insurers are trying to pivot their existing healthcare offerings increasingly into the telehealth space, more communities and patients will have access to remote healthcare services.
A recent report by McKinsey & Company found that “there is an estimated $265 billion worth of care services […] that could shift from traditional facilities to the home by 2025.” The report explains: “As eager as Americans may be to leave their homes after close to two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, one prevailing sentiment has become clear: when it comes to healthcare, many consumers would prefer options that allow them to remain out of a hospital or facility. To meet that demand, healthcare systems are reenvisioning how Care at Home ecosystems may evolve. Even before the pandemic, Care at Home was one of the fastest-growing provider growth segments because of favorable demographic and regulatory trends.”
The innovation in this sector is indeed endless. I wrote last year about how researchers at the University of Cincinnati have created a telehealth drone that can actually fly into a patient’s home, provide a screen for the patient to have a virtual doctor’s appointment, and even drop off medications as appropriate. Indeed, this is an entirely novel way of envisioning healthcare at home.
Notable industry giants are investing in this trend. Many pharmaceutical companies are now offering home-delivery, understanding that patients will likely choose their preferred pharmacist based on convenience, above all else. Furthermore, diagnostic testing companies are also embracing this new ode to convenience. Recently, renowned testing and diagnostics company Labcorp launched Labcorp OnDemand, a portal which enables people to access diagnostic tests and home-testing kits through an on-demand and patient driven platform.
Of course, as with any industry cultural shift, there are still numerous aspects yet to be resolved with regards to delivering home based healthcare. For one, there must be strict regulatory and security measures put into place that emphasize patient privacy, security, and safety. Moreover, although virtual care and home healthcare methods may increase access to care, many of these modalities also depend on optimal connectivity, including access to high speed broadband internet. Finally, scalability: innovators will have to develop ways to make these technologies and new ways of healthcare delivery not only efficacious, but also cost-effective, safe, and well curated to the needs of the patient population meant to be served.
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