Will Telemedicine Adoption Continue after the Pandemic? | Part 2: Investors, Regulators, Medicare Beneficiaries and the Healthcare System

March 25, 2021

Patrick Spain

In Part 1, we looked at how patients, doctors, employers and behavioral health needs drove telemedicine utilization last year. Now we’ll delve into additional stakeholders that played a significant role in the adoption of telemedicine in 2020.


Investors

Sentiment among the investment community remained bullish on standalone telemedicine in 2020, with publicly traded and privately sold companies being valued at 12 to over 30 times their revenues−in some instances even when the company was not yet profitable. The largest publicly traded player in this space saw revenues almost double in 2020. Deloitte’s Technology, Media & Telecom experts predict a 5% global rise in the number of virtual video doctor’s visits in 2021, representing a total of 400 million virtual visits and $25 billion in doctor’s payments.



Regulators

One of telehealth’s most influential advocates in 2020 was the federal government. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) encouraged adoption by relaxing regulations and opening up telemedicine for reimbursement. Telemedicine also fits into the broad agenda CMS has for encouraging the marketplace to adopt consumer-driven, value-based care. Much like the price transparency rule and modified Medicare Star ratings regulations, telemedicine provides a healthcare experience that puts patients at the center.


Medicare Beneficiaries

Notably, many regulatory changes broadened virtual care access for Medicare beneficiaries. The Medicare population (including beneficiaries of privately-administered Medicare programs) represents 67.7 million individuals (roughly 20% of the U.S. population). While seniors are often stereotyped as the most hesitant age cohort to access digital health resources, in 2020, one third of Medicare recipients accessed some form of telehealth service between March and October and 43% report intentions to use it after the pandemic.


The Healthcare System

The leap forward in telemedicine follows a pre-existing trend toward digital healthcare. Even prior to the pandemic, healthcare delivery was poised for major disruptions driven by technological advances, a shift from inpatient to outpatient care, the consumerization of healthcare and the need to lower overall healthcare costs.


While the pandemic may have accelerated the adoption of telemedicine, there are several reasons it may have staying power long after America achieves herd immunity.


For more insights, see our articles on the Top 10 Changes in Telemedicine in 2020, How the COVID-19 Pandemic has Fueled Demand for Telemedicine and How Telemedicine is Transforming the Healthcare Industry.

Originally published Mar 25, 2021 3:12:14 PM.