“The COVID Public Health Emergency did not create the telehealth industry; it simply accelerated its inevitable growth.” – Nathaniel Lacktman, Partner and Chair of Foley & Lardner’s Telemedicine & Digital Health Industry Team
A panel of telehealth thought leaders met to discuss How Telehealth Transformed Health Care Delivery and What the Future Holds, hosted by Moss Adams at its 2020 Health Care Executive Webcast Series: Consequences of a Crisis & Revolutionizing Care. The discussion was moderated by Nathaniel Lacktman, Partner and Chair of Foley & Lardner’s Telemedicine & Digital Health Industry Team, and included panelists Melynda Barnes, MD (SVP of Medical Affairs and Research at Ro); Mike Billings, PT, DHSc, MS, CEEAA (Chief Innovation Officer at Avamere Health Services); and Katherine Chemodurow Kelley, MD (Senior Medical Director at LifeStance Health).
“A goal of ours is to rewrite the narrative of the word ‘patient.’” – Dr. Melynda Barnes, SVP of Medical Affairs and Research at Ro
Each panelist spoke to their specific industry areas on how the push towards telemedicine during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency has affected and enhanced the user experience of their medical services, both from a patient perspective and a clinician perspective. The deliberately different workflows and product designs highlighted the human and social factors each panelist considered when implementing tech-heavy approaches to delivering medical care under social distancing practices. Dr. Barnes discussed that one of her company’s goals was to “rewrite the narrative of the word ‘patient.’” Mr. Billings concurred that in the inpatient physical rehabilitation environment, their virtual care services, while firmly rooted in clinical centered practices, have created choice for the patients in how, when, and from whom they receive their care. At LifeStance, Dr. Kelley highlighted a strong emphasis on sharing screens and data ahead of the consult, as a means to empower the patient to be more involved in their self-assessments and treatment regimens. Dr. Kelley said, “digital health, when done well, can honor and enhance the partnership between the patient and clinician.”
“If you review the literature – especially with regards to rehabilitation literature – there is a repeated demonstration that virtual care is not inferior to in-person care.” – Mike Billings, Chief Innovation Officer at Avamere Health Services
Panelists debated the concept of “patient” vs “consumer,” which led to a discussion of whether or not traditional medical providers should feel threatened by the rapid emergence of virtual care and digital health services. The resounding answer across the panel was a firm no; these technologies should be adopted and embraced. Mr. Lacktman suggested that providers who refuse to incorporate digital health “will not only lose market share, but risk falling below the standard of care.” The panelists concurred there remains a strong need, both personally and clinically, for in-person medical interactions. The Public Health Emergency brought to light the idea of making smarter choices on what venue and length of care makes the most sense for each patient. “We need to get smart and creative,” said Dr. Barnes, “not everyone needs to be seen on site.” For example, a 27 year old dealing with seasonal allergies might only need a short consultation virtually on how best to manage their symptoms, whereas an 80 year old quarantined at home might need more time to take their physician on a virtual tour of their home to assess fall risks or expired medication.
“Digital health, when done well, can honor and enhance the partnership between the patient and clinician.” – Dr. Katherine Chemodurow Kelley, Senior Medical Director at LifeStance Health
Throughout the session, the panel kept returning to the ethical implications of the rush to digital practice, triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. Particularly in the case of physical rehabilitation, Mr. Billings acknowledged there are still perils to consider. His work follows a systematic approach to integrating telemedicine into physical therapy, focusing on webside manner and education to identify clinicians with a specific skill set that matches well with the virtual care medium. He said it is the responsibility of the clinician to educate their patients on best practices and ethics in delivering care via telehealth. “A lot of things can go wrong in a telehealth encounter that you have to prepare for,” says Mr. Billings.
In closing the session, the panelists opined on the future of telemedicine after the Public Health Emergency has ended; a question many policymakers and industry stakeholders have been asking themselves. Each panelist shared their own unique forecast of what to expect in the coming years, but agreed that telemedicine will not disappear when the Public Health Emergency ends. It is a misconception to believe telehealth is new, when providers have offered telemedicine services for years. While it is impossible to predict the future, growing consumer demand, supply-side shortages of physicians, increase in the number and capabilities of smartphones and portable medical technology, rollouts of broadband and 5G wireless technology, and further sophistication in e-commerce all suggest a bright future for virtual care. Mr. Lacktman said, “The COVID Public Health Emergency did not create the telehealth industry; it simply accelerated its inevitable growth.”
You can watch this webinar in its entirety, as well as past sessions throughout the series, on demand by clicking here.
For more information on telemedicine, telehealth, virtual care, remote patient monitoring, digital health, and other health innovations, including the team, publications, and representative experience, visit Foley and Lardner’s Telemedicine & Digital Health Industry Team Page.
Moss Adams is a fully integrated professional services firm dedicated to assisting clients with growing, managing, and protecting prosperity. In light of COVID-19, they have transitioned their annual health care conference to an executive virtual summit series. The virtual series will touch on the significant impact that the pandemic has had on the continuum of care as well as on all stakeholders in the health care ecosystem—from health systems to providers, payers, employers, investors, and more. Each session will focus on how organizations can move forward in these challenging times to seize opportunity and re-think the concept of health care delivery. Learn more by clicking here.