“COVID-19 changes everything.” The “new normal” that follows the lock-down caused by the virus crisis will look different in many ways from the recent past. Some changes will be for the worse, but some will be for the better. One particular area where we all stand to benefit is the growth in telehealth.
The current isolation is driving more people to access healthcare in new ways. They may be hesitant to seek treatment in person at hospitals or other clinical settings for fear of infection. Or they may simply find that video chat and telephone can provide quick and easy access to healthcare professionals. As we’ve stated here repeatedly, clinicians need connected devices to give them the measures of patient vital signs they need in order to make informed decisions. Now we have some evidence that these connected devices are getting a lot more use during this period of sheltering in place.
Hello Heart is a service for self-insured employers and health plans to track the health of employees. It uses connected devices to monitor hypertension and to provide digital coaching. The smartphone app also collects data about weight and physical activity; it then issues an alert if numbers stray out of range. The data can also be shared with an employee’s physician.
The company has analyzed recent data and found that its subscribers have substantially increased their use of the system. 79% of them who were using the app once a week have increased their use. 42% doubled their use, 23% tripled their use, and 14% increased their use four-fold.
As patients and doctors become more comfortable and familiar with telehealth services, they discover the convenience and ways that it can monitor health issues more closely. Many will continue to expect this same level of convenience and efficiency when sheltering-in-place ends, and you can expect to see the demand for telehealth services to continue to grow.