The recent Coronavirus outbreak has reinforced the need for strong in-building wireless networks for a lot of industries—including telemedicine. Research firm Pitchbook recently reported that telemedicine startups in the United States have seen demand for their services increase amid the outbreak. Recent pushes from the federal government and health insurers have contributed to this surge.
Virtual health visits have almost doubled for the artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled platform 98point6, while virtual clinic Amwell has seen its usage go up approximately 40 percent above normal, according to Pitchbook. Meanwhile startup Ro said its seen “significant’ growth in Corona virus-related online visits.
All three of these startups have made Coronavirus screen tools available in response to the virus. Ro plans to offer free video consultations with doctors whose patients who are symptomatic.
Telehealth isn’t new, just rarely used
President Trump declared a national emergency last Friday and noted telehealth as one of the tools available to combat the Coronavirus. Surprisingly given how much mobile technology has been embraced universally, telehealth has not been used much prior to this health crisis. Less than 10 percent of American has ever used a telemedicine service, according to a 2019 J.D. Power survey. Meanwhile, a majority of people don’t have access to or aren’t aware of telehealth options.
New federal legislation is being put in place to take down some of these barriers. Some restrictions are being removed on telehealth services for elderly Medicare patients. Additionally, some large health insurers are temporarily waiving telemedicine costs.
Importance of telemedicine
Telemedicine provides faster care for patients, and it keeps them away from hospitals, where they could infect other people or put themselves at risk. Virtual healthcare can also decrease the strain on the system and help monitor diseases as they spread.
In an effort to expand access, new federal legislation removed some restrictions on telehealth services for elderly Medicare patients, and some large insurers are temporarily waiving telemedicine costs. Although virtual doctors can’t test patients for the virus, they can work with healthcare centers or direct people with symptoms to testing centers that are being formed across the U.S. 98point6 started to develop its solution in January, prior to the Coronavirus spreading in the U.S. according to Pitchbook.