COVID-19: Impact on Managed Care Portfolios
For several years now, we’ve been hearing about the promise of telehealth to transform healthcare. The benefits are many, including ease of access and convenience for patients, flexibility and efficiencies for providers, and lower costs across the system.
However, supporters of the status quo pointed to the required capital investments, privacy and quality concerns, and potentially misaligned incentives as examples of the hurdles continuing to restrain telehealth from becoming a truly transformative, widespread marketplace tool. Indeed, opponents of telehealth continued to believe a telehealth visit was an inadequate substitute for a face-to-face, in-office visit.
“Just take any step, whether small or large. And then another and repeat day after day. It may take months, maybe years, but the path to success will become clear.” This quote from Aaron Ross fairly describes the decade-long journey that those who have been telehealth advocates have traveled… until now.
As our nation has responded to the novel coronavirus pandemic, health systems previously focused on removing inefficiency and excess capacity are suddenly severely under-equipped to handle the forecast patient demand. Our healthcare industry has seen otherwise normal in-office visits essentially disappear except in emergent situations, and CMS has quickly relaxed some rules originally promulgated through its highly structured rule-making process.
Several long-held assumptions and foundational beliefs within the healthcare industry needed to be reexamined and evolve quickly, including what telehealth champions have touted for years – that telehealth can be a transformative tool, increasing patient accessibility and a health system’s bandwidth to deliver care.