It’s not easy to find a silver lining in a pandemic but one of the more positive developments associated with COVID-19 is the rise of telehealth, which uses video and audio communication to enable virtual medicine — including routine visits, diagnosis, patient monitoring and more.
A recent webinar sponsored by Verizon and conducted by Cityfi, an urban change management consultancy, explored the current state of telehealth with a panel of medical experts and technologists. The bottom line? Telehealth offers significant opportunities to raise community resilience to health threats, to address disparities in healthcare quality and access—and to boost overall health and happiness.
“As we’re learning to live and work with the complications posed by COVID-19, the healthcare industry is undergoing a digital transformation and utilizing remote technologies to improve access to care and treatment,” said Gabe Klein, a partner at Cityfi. Enabled by broadband connectivity, telehealth and supporting technologies offer many benefits — convenience, access to expertise, and ultimately, better health.
Just the beginning
Telehealth enables three main healthcare opportunities, which were highlighted by Dr. Pierre Vigilance, a population health advisor with broad public health experience. The first is the most obvious — replacing or supplementing traditional office visits, which were difficult if not impossible during the pandemic. Telehealth also encompasses storage of health-related information (e.g., an X-ray or EKG) in the cloud, for review by multiple experts — who can consult with the patient more quickly and thoroughly. Telehealth also includes remote patient monitoring, which uses home-based technology and wearables to monitor a patient’s vital signs and symptoms.
These core capabilities of healthcare are just beginning, as the webinar discussion showed. There are many innovative ways to apply technology to improving health — from identifying asthma hotspots in urban areas to facilitating aging in place. Technologists, healthcare providers, physicians and entrepreneurs are all exploring the potential of telehealth to improve health today and increase resilience tomorrow.
“If COVID taught us anything, it’s that we need to be flexible,” said Cathy Lester, executive director for health transformation at Verizon. “We don’t know what’s around the corner.”
To find out more about the current state of telehealth, you can access the archived webinar here.
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