COVID-19 accelerated the digitalization of healthcare and the adoption of telehealth globally. Amidst global lockdown and quarantine measures imposed due to COVID-19, access to telehealth is increasingly crucial.
Eurogroup Consulting and its international network, Nextcontinent, have analysed the impact of Covid-19 on the development of telehealth. This white paper takes stock of the level of maturity of the various countries in terms of telehealth. The analysis of these cases allows to formulate recommendations for the success of telemedicine deployment projects.
KEY COMPONENTS OF A COMPREHENSIVE TELEHEALTH SERVICE
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines telehealth as the delivery of healthcare services, where patients and providers are separated by distance. Telehealth uses ICT for the exchange of information for the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and injuries, research, and evaluation, and for the continuing education of health professionals. Telehealth can contribute to achieving universal health coverage by improving access for patients to quality, cost-effective health services wherever they may be. It is particularly valuable for those in remote areas, vulnerable groups and aging populations.
Nextcontinent believes the following approaches are key components of a comprehensive telehealth service:
Live, synchronous, interactive encounters between a patient and a healthcare provider via video, telephone, or live chat.
Prescription of a treatment remotely by the physician, via the use of ICT following telehealth diagnosis without clinical examination to the patient or upon telehealth prescription of treatment based on diagnosis conducted through the traditional clinical way.
Identification of the illness and the patient’s health condition by the healthcare provider via the use of ICT including wireless devices, wearable sensors, and mobile apps. Asynchronous diagnosis by a specialist using store and forward ICT is included.
Any telehealth intervention via the use of ICT.
Also known as remote patient monitoring.
Collection, transmission, evaluation and communication of individual health data and vital signs, from a patient to the healthcare provider or extended care team from outside a hospital or clinical office (i.e., the patient’s home) via the use of ICT including wireless devices, wearable sensors, implanted health monitors, and mobile apps.
Healthcare players need to move now to support such a shift and pivot to longer term strategies to improve their future position.
A COMPLEX PROCESS THAT REQUIRES ALL STAKEHOLDERS TO PLAY A ROLE
Despite the growth opportunity presented by COVID-19, the implementation of telehealth within a healthcare system as a whole remains a complex process that requires all stakeholders to play a role. In addition, the lack of incentives to promote widespread adoption including funding, regulatory and cultural issues, represents a critical challenge. Finally, the increased use of telehealth is exposing the lack of integration, a gap that must be covered to improve the future of care.