Virtual care will forever change how healthcare is delivered in the US, and it is on the cusp of mass adoption that is being accelerated due to the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the lasting increase in enrollment that will ensue as consumers come to understand the benefits and value of these solutions. Healthcare will change, ecosystems will change, tech stacks will change, and how your employees engage healthcare providers will change.
This past Friday, March 13, President Trump declared a national emergency in response to the coronavirus — opening up access to $50 billion dollars. The President authorized Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar to waive healthcare regulations to allow hospitals and healthcare workers the flexibility needed to scale telehealth (virtual care) nationally. Virtual care providers have already seen a surge in visits over the past week due to virtual care’s ability to serve vulnerable patients in their homes, mitigate strain on healthcare resources, and calm anxieties of citizens quarantined in their homes. It is important to note that virtual care physicians can’t test for COVID-19, but rather, they will help facilitate coordination with hospitals and symptomatic individuals to send to drive-through centers, which are poised to increase in number. In fact, major healthcare retailers (CVS, Target, Walgreens, and Walmart) are in talks with the Trump administration to stand up drive-through testing centers.
In addition, big tech is joining the effort, with Alphabet lending a hand through Verily by launching a pilot website in the Bay Area to help symptomatic citizens self-triage, with plans to expand over time. People looking for immediate guidance outside of the Bay Area can look to existing clinically trained self-triage tools already available.
While the recent state of emergency lifts many restrictions otherwise hindering the widespread rollout of virtual care, the question will be of supply, not demand. Forrester is revising its 2020 predictions for virtual care visit volumes and will be sharing more soon. Stay tuned.
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Want more research on virtual care?
Use the Forrester New Wave™: Virtual Care Solutions For Digital Health, Q2 2019 to identify what platforms were leaders for virtual care (telehealth) deployment as well as our New Tech: Virtual Care, Q1 2019 to better understand the vendor landscape including who supports self-triage.