Michigan Association of Health Plans

How Covid-19 Reshaped The Telemedicine Market

I hope I can say without much critique that today’s IT professionals have generally had an easier time getting over the consequences of the pandemic — save maybe for the higher workloads and, of course, higher stress levels. Layoffs and furloughs have been commonplace, don’t get me wrong, but the demand for core IT professionals hasn’t changed. And that’s perhaps true for most industries and especially so for those that rely on technology.

As someone with a personal commitment to online health services, telemedicine has been of particular interest. In my experience speaking to and working with remote health care and telemedicine providers, IT hiring has not gone down in the industry and some providers have even scaled up compared to the year prior.

So how has Covid-19 affected telemedicine?

The Impact Of Covid-19 On Telemedicine

What’s striking now is how remote patient care has become more accessible than ever before. Chronic illness treatment, endocrinology, rheumatology, gastroenterology, psychiatric counseling and overall long-term care — all have become more available in recent times.

Last December, the Mental Health Telemedicine Expansion Act expanded access to mental health services by means of telemedicine. This growth of services offered skyrocketed due to rising demand during the pandemic.

However, this level of consumer adoption hasn’t always been the case. Before the pandemic, one of the major obstacles to developing the telemedicine market was reimbursement restrictions. This meant most telehealth services weren’t covered by health insurance. To add insult to injury, such services couldn’t always be rendered across state lines.

With little demand to evolve and adapt software and systems to new requirements and circumstances, the supply of telemedicine software was nowhere near its current diversity. Just over a year ago, the legacy constraints of insurers and short demand for purpose-built software seemed to signal that little would change on short notice.

To support social distancing, restrictions on telemedicine have since been relaxed. Forty-three states in the U.S., as well as Washington, D.C., currently have a telehealth commercial insurance coverage law. Compared to 2019, when just 11% of U.S. consumers relied on telemedicine, now there are as many as 46%, according to McKinsey.

This article originally appeared in Forbes. Read more here.

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