Booming consumer demand for digital health products
Need more evidence that telehealth’s COVID wave was no fluke? A new white paper explores usage data and consumer preferences, and predicts another leap forward this year. The document, released by consumer research firm Park Associates and data tracker Softeq Development Corp., reports that an explosion in purchases of connected medical products is imminent.
This is based on the experiences consumers had with telehealth technology in 2020, as 41% of broadband consumers engaged in a medical visit remotely, up from 15% in 2019. The increase is not surprising; COVID has forced many consumers to go online for medical help.
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But overall, patients approved of the change and want more. When asked about their future buying prospects, nearly 60% of those raising children under the age of 18 said they would get hold of a connected medical product for home use. More than four in ten surveyed households that already had a telehealth product said they would get more. And a quarter of US broadband customers said they would buy one or more products.
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This bodes well for the manufacturers of these long-suffering products. But what about the other end of the paradigm: health care providers? Many were reluctant to demand patients for virtual services last year, as many of their patients went without care during the year.
Of course, the adoption by healthcare providers of anything new has historically been slow. Remember the tears shed in clinics across the country when told to put their paper records online? But money was also a problem. The billing systems of today’s health plans spit out “don’t calculate” when asked to bill for a virtual exam. Today, plan administrators are starting to code these visits so doctors don’t lose their homes, and the pace of adoption is picking up, according to the white paper.
In the meantime, the newspaper notes, another trend unrelated to COVID is boosting the prospects for telehealth. Many people aged 65 and over do not want to switch to assisted living. But the dangers of aging in place have forced it on people prone to falls, minor strokes, and home environment issues they were unable to cope with.
These seniors now want more home surveillance and security products to keep them in place, and the growing discussion about telehealth services has reached their ears.
The result: Investors, maybe now is the time to flock to telehealth products and services that meet the dual need to avoid clinics and age in place. Providers, if you don’t follow suit, your patients are likely to look elsewhere for what they want. In fact, the wave of new products designed to connect consumers and suppliers is full of data abstraction technologies that will make life easier for clinicians by removing some of the tedious work.
“The widespread adoption of virtual care has also increased the demand for solutions that can integrate connected devices into physician workflows to analyze data and deliver actionable and meaningful results as well as improved outcomes,” the document states. . “Product developers face increasingly complex choices when creating connected devices and services. Advances in connectivity speed, cloud computing, advanced computing and machine learning require proven technical skills from end-to-end solution providers like Softeq.
Kristen Hanich, Senior Analyst at Park Associates, adds, “Virtual tours are convenient for consumers and provide greater operational efficiency for healthcare professionals. They also open up the possibility of bringing more tools to support both patients and doctors. “
It’s the win-win telehealth we’ve been waiting for. We just didn’t know a little virus would get us there.