“The telehealth industry has experienced a five-year shift in six months,” said Nick Sarantis, system director of digital health at Baptist Health System, during a Connected Nation Michigan sponsored webinar on Tuesday.
The virtual discussion featured a panel of experts from Michigan State University and Baptist Health who spoke on the past, present, and future of telemedicine practices and technology.
“Digital health continues to change the industry,” said Sarantis, saying the business has undergone a paradigm shift, in that consumers are now requesting telehealth.
“Pre-pandemic there were a lot of barriers to patients accessing telehealth,” noted Bree Holtz, director of the Health and Risk Communication Master’s program at MSU.
But, health insurance providers began covering and reimbursing patients for telehealth appointments throughout the pandemic. Panelists said they expect barriers which previously existed to remain down.
Holtz said she expects digital health practices to become the new standard.
A study conducted by Holtz found that 80 percent of people over 30 years old responded that they are more likely to use telemedicine going forward, while all age groups reported being equally satisfied with telemedicine experiences.
“The more satisfied they are, the more likely they’re going to do it in the future,” said Holtz.
The panelists discussed the emerging uses of telemedicine, noting digital innovations promise to shape the industry indefinitely.
According to the panelists, telehealth is the field that may experience the most changes in the 5G revolution.
The high latency capabilities of 5G will allow for the quick and reliable transport of huge data files of medical imagery, which can generate up to 1 gigabyte of information per patient study.
Remote patient monitoring wearable devices will improve patient outcomes by monitoring physical health and equipping providers with data they otherwise may not have access to.
The panelists noted that challenges remain, including issues with patients’ digital literacy.
“Patient education is something we overlooked initially,” said Sarantis.
Sarantis reported practices utilized by Baptist Health Systems included walkthrough tutorial videos and training providers with digital interpersonal skills.
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