Quarterly Trends Report

Q3 2020: COVID-19 creates tipping point for telehealth

  • Multi Asset
  • Healthcare
  • North America

Health providers around the world have rushed to offer digital solutions, including telehealth, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to the outbreak, mainstream awareness of telehealth was surprisingly low. But this has changed during the course of 2020 — in some ways, the pandemic has created the perfect conditions for digital transformation in healthcare. This surge of progress is illustrated by statistics such as how total visits at Teladoc Health skyrocketed by 203% YoY to 2.8 million in Q2. Third Bridge Forum interviewed several industry experts in Q3 to discuss the industry’s growth potential and developments across the competitive landscape.

Existing healthcare system challenges, including physician shortages, rising costs of care and inefficiencies, have long been ripe for digital transformation. Up to USD 250bn of current US healthcare spend could be “virtualised” if consumers and providers continue to embrace telehealth, according to McKinsey. For this to happen, consumers and providers will need to adopt new systems, new levels of data exchange and deeper integration. Ongoing education around the benefits of technology-enabled healthcare, and how to use it, will also be crucial to maximise success. 

Prior to 2020, telehealth in the US had been largely stifled by ambiguous and often changing regulations concerning the reimbursement of doctors and licensure. But the dial is beginning to move in the right direction, with one of the provisions of Congress’s emergency COVID-19 funding relaxing rules on telehealth services under Medicare. Legislation was also passed that allowed remote doctors to connect with patients in different states, an important development as it enables providers to operate at scale. We heard that such legislation is unlikely to be “clawed back”, as it was already in the pipeline. 

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