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Telehealth's Final Call: How Healthcare Can Face the COVID-19 Onslaught

By Special Guest
Rahat Haque, Business development manager/market researcher, Aetonix

The Onslaught
Ever since our founding, we have seen a steady rise in interest from the remote patient monitoring market, but nothing quite like this before! It all began early last month, when healthcare organizations were beginning to come to terms with COVID-19, or more commonly known as the Corona Virus. We were bombarded with requests from current clients if we would be able to help, being a virtual care solution. They were all looking to remotely screen potential patients who may have the virus. We were told to focus our time and effort exclusively in developing and communicating a solution that would help healthcare organizations at this time of crisis.

What Does this Pandemic Mean for Telehealth?
We have been in this line of work since 2014 as one of the early pioneers in the remote patient monitoring (RPM) space, which also includes telehealth by default. The word telehealth is normally reserved for virtual video calls only. Most RPM platforms have that capability, plus the ability to remotely capture patient data. Many industry experts are looking at this as a great gateway to remote patient monitoring, via telehealth. To be fair, telehealth has always gained more prominence in times of crisis. Think back to Hurricane Katrina, when healthcare organizations were obliged to use more telehealth to provide care to those whose access to healthcare had been severed. The COVID-19 is a barrier too, but instead of a geographical barrier, it presents itself as an infectious barrier. That is, you can still visit the hospital, but would be better off in not doing so at the risk of being a carrier or contracting the virus.

So while this crisis has opened the remote care floodgates for many providers and healthcare organizations by means of telehealth, the real possibility lies in the continuation of care which can be achieved with care coordination features such as care pathways. It is fascinating, as already we have been asked questions in our discovery calls about how to manage a particular patient in a post COVID-19 era, or with other needs that may arise in the current state. So while the immediate need for telehealth was the trigger, it is opening the eyes of all to greater possibility of remote care that goes beyond just virtual calls. 

But for organizations that have waited thus far to build a telehealth program, it is a wake up call for them as well as they need the virtual calls immediately. In today’s age, it is becoming essential to maintain a digital means of communication with the patient. While most hospitals use some type of patient portals, these portals do not elicit the same type of patient engagement that a mobile app does. Less than 25 percent of patients ever activate their patient portal. Yet, more than 80 percentof hospitals rely on them, while less than 25 percent of all hospitals use mobile apps. But if the greater engagement angle is not enough of an attention grabber, crises like COVID-19 will definitely make one think twice about having an existing virtual care program. The advantage of having such a program is that existing patients already know the drill when the next big disaster hits. It is a rather painless process for them to switch to telehealth when the situation mandates.

About the author: Rahat Haque is the business development manager/market researcher of Aetonix. Based out of Ottawa, Aetonix is a full-service remote patient monitoring (RPM) company that specializes in complex care. It started its journey in 2014, after noticing a gap in the market for patient-centric remote care solutions. To find out more what sets Aetonix apart in the world of remote care, visit www.aetonix.com.




Edited by Ken Briodagh


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