Health Care is in the Early Days of its Biggest Shift in Decades

Americans are witnessing a foundational change in the way we experience medical care. While patient treatment has evolved in recent decades, thanks especially to the development of cutting-edge imaging and innovative treatments, the industry is poised to transform to such a degree that it will soon be unrecognizable to patients of the past.

The largest area of change in medicine is how Americans will seek care going forward. In years past, the public evolved its expectations from having the local doctor drop by for a house call to arranging for an appointment at a busy practice affiliated (or owned by) a hospital system. Yet the latter situation will most assuredly be replaced in most cases with telemedicine—a revolution in patient care that QuickMD’s patients are already enjoying.

QuickMD recognized the opportunity for telemedicine and tele-MAT treatment to improve the lives of patients—especially those suffering from opioid addiction years before the word telemedicine[1] entered popular usage. But two developments had to occur for the company’s vision of providing state-of-the-art addiction treatment to become a reality.

First, technology had to improve. As video communications have progressed and become a daily part of our lives[2], they now combine the quality and ease of use necessary to make remote care a viable reality. Second, government regulations caught up with the opportunity to treat patients facing addiction with medical professionals online. For instance, the SUPPORT act, signed in 2018, approves[3] the use of telemedicine for MAT (medicine-assisted treatment) of opioid addiction, and with this legal framework in place, our team got to work helping patients and saving lives.

Although the SUPPORT act provided the critical regulatory approval for QuickMD to provide MAT services to patients by harnessing the power of telemedicine, it wasn’t the driving force behind the telehealth revolution. The much bigger influence prompting Americans to embrace this technology is, of course, the COVID-19 pandemic the entire world has been battling since the beginning of 2020.

The CDC was also a big impetus for public adoption early in the crisis. It endorses[4] the use of telemedicine to “decrease your contact with healthcare facilities, other patients, and healthcare staff in order to reduce the risk of COVID-19 and keep you and your family healthy.”

Naturally, the shift to telemedicine still left many within the healthcare industry scrambling to develop a solution for patients. Our team already had experience providing care remotely and had taken the time to position itself as a telemedicine leader, especially in the area of MAT for opioid addiction.

In the ensuing months since the world first learned of the coronavirus, Americans have certainly embraced telemedicine. According to data compiled by business process outsourcing firm Sykes, 80% of survey respondents believe they can receive high quality care through telemedicine appointments[5]. (That figure is from the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the trend is positive—the percentage believing in the power of telemedicine grew from just 66% the year before.)

Once a patient has tried telemedicine, it is a good bet they are sold on the future of medicine. The Sykes survey shows an astounding 88% of patients that tried this service want to continue seeing their doctor via video appointments in the future, even as COVID-19 restrictions ease. Changing patient attitudes towards this manner of care make industry leaders an excellent investment opportunity for private equity funds and venture capitalists eager to position themselves as healthcare innovators.

To this end, Forrester Research predicted one billion telemedicine appointments in 2020[6], a massive increase over 2019. The CDC’s own data shows that telemedicine appointments jumped 154% in March 2020[7]—and that was relatively early in the COVID-19 pandemic, as the approach to providing medical care was just beginning its shift online.

Of course, at the heart of this move to telemedicine is not just the pandemic, but also the patient experience telemedicine provides, when done right. It’s clear to observe patients embrace telemedicine, not because they have no other option, but rather, because it provides effective care and other benefits, such as convenience and privacy.

Even so, the pessimistic view of technology is that it isolates humanity and in the healthcare industry, results in less connection between patient and doctor. Yet with telemedicine, the opposite is true. According to the same survey data gathered by Sykes, more than half of the respondents reported seeing their doctor more often through the power of telemedicine. And according to our team of physicians, our patients also appreciate the convenience of being able to attend a telehealth appointment from anywhere they choose without traveling to the office. They also enjoy the privacy and confidence of speaking to an addiction specialist without friends, coworkers, and/or loved ones even being aware of their appointment.

Without a doubt, our team at QuickMD has seen successful patient outcomes in both specialized MAT care for opioid addiction and in an increasing number of other fields, including telemedicine urgent care. What’s more, telemedicine is quickly becoming a key component of a revolutionary treatment strategy that will include emerging technologies, like AI-assisted imaging[8] and other breakthroughs scientists and engineers are just beginning to imagine.

If you are a physician interesting in fighting the battle against the opioid crisis, or an investor ready to join the telemedicine revolution with an industry leader in patient innovation, feel free to contact QuickMD today to learn more.

Authors:

Jared Sheehan: Jared is the Chief Operating Officer at QuickMD. He is a serial entrepreneur who has worked at the intersection of social impact and technology for the last decade. Prior to QuickMD, he was a senior consultant at Deloitte Consulting in their Social Impact Strategy practice. Jared is a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt and has deep healthcare experience, including the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, Aurora Healthcare, Neeka Healthcare, Scripps research, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Jared is the winner of the FDA Naloxone App Competition. Jared graduated Summa Cum Laude from Miami University.

Dr. Angela Schultz, MD: She received her medical degree from Wayne State University. She is dual board certified in family and addiction medicine and has over 25 years medical experience. Dr. Schultz has been working in addiction medicine for over 5 years and is passionate to help those who have this disease because she lost a family member to an opioid overdose.

Michael Ashley: Michael Ashley is a contributing writer for QuickMD and the author of more than 30 books, including four bestsellers. A former Disney screenwriter and current professional speaker, he is also a columnist with Forbes and Entrepreneur, covering medical applications of AI and Big Data. Beyond contributing to these publications, Michael has written for the HuffPostFast Company, the IEEE, the United Nations' ITU News, the Orange County Business JournalThe California Business JournalNewsbase, and the Orange County Register. He has also been featured in Entertainment Weekly, Fox Sports, and KTLA.

 

[1] https://www.webmd.com/lung/how-does-telemedicine-work#1

[2] https://www.spglobal.com/marketintelligence/en/news-insights/latest-news-headlines/zoom-s-massive-growth-amid-covid-19-set-to-continue-after-pandemic-analysts-say-58907516

[3] https://www.medicaid.gov/medicaid/benefits/telemedicine/index.html

[4] https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/global-covid-19/telemedicine.html

[5] https://www.itij.com/latest/news/covid-one-year-americans-continue-embrace-telehealth

[6] https://www.cnbc.com/2020/04/03/telehealth-visits-could-top-1-billion-in-2020-amid-the-coronavirus-crisis.html

[7] https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6943a3.htm

[8] https://www.cancernetwork.com/view/ai-assisted-radiologists-see-improved-performance-detection-breast-cancer

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