III: What We Learned in 2020 & What We’re Expecting This Year

Posted March 24, 2021
By Niko Skievaski

Three: Facilitate Telehealth through Infrastructure

As the adage goes necessity is the mother of invention. But in 2020, necessity was the mother of adoption, and by this, I mean technology, especially as it relates to telehealth. In one of my recent Forbes columns, I took a slightly different approach to the usual predictions, focusing more on lessons learned from 2020 to then help guide these four forward-looking prescriptions: 

Prescription 1: Double down on innovation

Prescription 2: Make interoperability a greater priority

Prescription 3: Facilitate telehealth through infrastructure

Prescription 4: Take on more risk (when it makes sense)

I talked about interoperability last week in this blog post (above). Today, let’s address how to facilitate telehealth through better infrastructure. 

With the increased risks that the pandemic has placed on in-person visits, patients who were once reluctant to use telehealth — whether because of technology apprehension or preference for face-to-face interaction — are now embracing it. As a result, telehealth is taking off.

Telehealth adoption has also gotten a boost federally. For example, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) granted reimbursement for telehealth visits at the same rates as in-person visits, and the Department of Health and Human Services eased measures that restricted the use of telehealth. The result was a 50% increase in telehealth adoption for primary care visits between January and June 2020.

In rural communities — or anywhere with connectivity challenges — access to the internet and broadband service must be addressed. Also, underserved communities should have access to telehealth outposts — nearby booths where patients can conduct private virtual appointments. This is an opportunity for a continued push for technology adoption to include care delivery outside of traditional settings.

Here’s to telehealth in 2021!

Portions of this article originally appeared in Forbes.