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What Does the Future Hold for Telehealth? New Report Gives Hints

Thanks to the pandemic, Americans have gotten used to having appointments with their doctors and other health providers through video chats, phone calls, and text-based e-visits.

But what does the future hold for telehealth, and how can providers, insurers, and policymakers use the experience of the past year and a half to decide what kind of virtual care they will support once the pandemic ends?

A new report from the University of Michigan provides new data that could inform them all. The “snapshot” report spotlights a number of disparities in adoption, access, and attitudes when it comes to telehealth, through previously unreleased data as well as finding from published research.

It’s the product of work by dozens of U-M faculty members and research staff who collaborate with the Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation’s Telehealth Research Incubator.

The rapid pivot to virtual visits in March and April 2020, when limiting in-person care to the most essential interactions, was one of the most rapid and revolutionary shifts modern medicine has ever witnessed,” says Chad Ellimoottil, MD, MS, who leads IHPI’s telehealth efforts and who was working to encourage and study virtual visits through his faculty role in the U-M Department of Urology for several years before the pandemic began. “Rapid access to data such as these can help decisionmakers at all levels make choices to make the best use of this option, but only if they listen to the voice of the patient and the frontline provider.” 

Key findings shared for the first time in the report come from an analysis of data from Michigan Medicine, U-M’s academic medical center, as well as statewide records from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. The report also summarizes telehealth polling and research already published by teams led by IHPI members.

Among the newly released findings:

In addition to the new data, the report summarizes key findings from studies published by IHPI members in medical and telehealth journals, and from the National Poll on Healthy Aging which released its second report on telehealth used by adults age 50 to 80 last year.

Find more information on telehealth research on IHPI’s website.

Source: Michigan Medicine - University of Michigan