As we leave the old world and step into the new, telehealth has become a critical channel for health insurers and their customers. Not only is it here to stay but it has the potential to upend the entire healthcare system.
As and when we move out of the Covid-19 lockdown, we’ll see a continued demand for telehealth; the channel already has mainstream adoption, and extended and enforced social distancing will maintain this demand. Plus the doctors and nurses who risked their lives on the front line, as well as the GPs providing community care, will and should insist on new ways to treat patients. The $200m in US federal funding already announced for telehealth services is just one example of how quickly this shift will happen.
What’s of most interest is how the technology now evolves and who will start to own the space.
Beyond the today
For many insurers, coronavirus has forced their hand to accelerate their deployment and put telehealth front and centre of their client offering; either rushing to build online capability, or ramping up capacity. Demand is exploding and – with a finite number of medical consultants, online or not – we are bound to see bottlenecks forming, especially in markets with a patchwork of private and public provision.
Equally a number of startup/tech innovators, independent of insurance or healthcare relationships, have enjoyed rapid scaling and through-the-roof valuations. Swedish telehealth giant KRY’s recent €140m Series C is just one deal in Q1 20’s bumper investment total.
Finally, and a particularly interesting study, is the activity that both Amazon and Google are undertaking in this space. Not only could they rapidly dominate the market but they have the potential to upend the entire global healthcare space: providing accessibility and affordability to billions of people around the world.
Building capacity across telehealth
With all this activity in the sector, and the inevitable focus from investors, trade press and elsewhere, building telehealth solutions that can handle this spike in growth is key.
Microsoft made news this week when they offered their chatbot tech free to Denmark’s emergency helplines – handling the most common/minor conditions, and triaging the rest.
We think this is a core capability and one that will become commonplace – so we have picked out a range of telehealth startups that also help to automate patient enquiries and diagnosis, bringing scaleable capacity to heavily subscribed services.
But, as always, the future will be shaped by the innovators who drive the market through new products and services.
If you are one of these, and involved in telehealth, please download the report to access 10 innovators that might just give you the competitive edge beyond your current offering.