Frost & Sullivan Predicts Telemedicine Surge Will Continue After Pandemic Ends
U.S. demand for telehealth will soar by 64.3% in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report released by Frost & Sullivan.
The report, “Telehealth—A Technology-Based Weapon in the War Against the Coronavirus, 2020,” predicted the demand for telehealth in the U.S. will grow seven-fold by 2025, for a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 38.2%. This suggests that telehealth will become the new normal for many healthcare providers.
Telemedicine already is a key element in sustaining clinical trials. The FDA advocated remote patient monitoring for clinical trials early in the pandemic.
“Allowing these devices to be used remotely can help health care providers access information about a patient’s vital signs while the patient is at home, reducing the need for hospital visits and minimizing the risk of exposure to coronavirus,” FDA Principal Deputy Commissioner Amy Abernethy, M.D., Ph.D said in a statement.
Guidance for non-invasive medical monitoring devices, such as continuous temperature monitoring or continuous glucose monitoring, was issued in March.
Ideaya Biosciences, an oncology-focused precision medicine company, is among the many companies using these FDA policies to continue monitoring patients enrolled in clinical trials.
In announcing first quarter results, Ideaya updated investors on the Phase I/II trials – still underway – for IDE196 with patients having solid tumors harboring activating GNAQ/11 mutations. “We are generally not experiencing substantial impact from the COVID-19 pandemic on our IDE196 program,” Yujiro S. Hata, CEO and president, said in a statement.
Logistical restrictions on travel and site visits are being overcome by monitoring the 56 enrolled patients through a combination of telemedicine and local visits. Because IDE196 is orally administered, it is being shipped directly to patients at home.
Neurocrine, likewise, is relying on remote healthcare during the pandemic. It ships virtually all of its neurologic medications directly to patients to minimize treatment disruptions and works with local pharmacies to ensure patients can speak with a nurse about any concerns. With this system, “Patients don’t have to keep track of how many pills they have,” CEO Kevin Gorman, Ph.D., said.
Although FDA policies for telemedicine are set to expire when the public health crisis ends, the use of remote monitoring technologies is inevitable.
Science 37 (a virtual trials company) and AiCure (a medication adherence company) are starting a 150-patient virtual trial for patients with depression. Science 37 has 143 virtual trials underway, according to ClinicalTrials.gov.
Telemedicine fills a need, especially during the current healthcare crisis. A recent survey of 750 members of the Health Perspectives Group Health Stories Project who are living with or caring for those with chronic conditions revealed that, during the COVID-19 pandemic, they are beginning to embrace remote technologies. For example:
- tried telemedicine appointments through their insurance company for the first time.
- have participated in a video call.
- have utilized live chat.
There are benefits for providers, too. The University of Virginia Health System (UVHS) is using a system developed for the Ebola virus outbreak to reduce exposure to healthcare professionals while still providing personalized patient care. In an article in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society, researchers outlined how the Isolation Communication Management System (iSOCOMS) was used to care for patients in a biocontainment unit.
That system uses real-time video-enabled interactive services in the emergency room and inpatient units. iSOCOMS monitored patients as they moved from an ambulance to a containment room, and then allowed them to safely communicate with healthcare professionals, for professionals to communicate with the care team outside the containment zone, and for observers to monitor and warn against breaches in personal protective equipment in real time. The team discussed, but did not use video-enabled consultation during that crisis.
Speaking for the team, Kyle B. Enfield, division of pulmonary & critical care, UVHS, said, “The benefits of iSOCOMS in reducing PPE use, improving patient experience, extending the capacity of our workforce and providing a means for providers to see patients in their own hospital without always going into their rooms are clear. Telemedicine is as vital a tool for inpatient care of COVID as it is for ambulatory care.”
Frost & Sullivan had a similar conclusion in its telehealth study. “The critical need for social distancing among physicians and patients will drive unprecedented demand for telehealth, which involves the use of communication systems and networks to enable either a synchronous or asynchronous session between the patient and provider,” Victor Camlek, healthcare principal analyst at Frost & Sullivan, said.
“Across the market segments, virtual visits and remote patient monitoring will propel the overall market of telehealth,” Camlek continued. Further, patients will benefit if data from remote monitoring is fully available to the virtual visit providers.” Integrated services, therefore, have value.
Telehealth has the potential become a standard of care, the Frost & Sullivan report determined. The challenge is whether technology and healthcare providers can scale-up quickly and efficiently to meet the demand. Sustaining growth beyond the pandemic depends on:
- User-friendly sensors and remote diagnostic equipment that yield a high rate of successful patient outcomes following the telehealth experience.
- Practical applications of (AI), interactive virtual assistants (IVAs), and robotics that expand the telehealth deployment model.
- Deployment of that helps researchers learn more about the way COVID-19 progresses among diverse patient populations.
- Adherence to cybersecurity and privacy regulations to avoid data breaches.
- Measurable data that confirms the value of telehealth and influences regulatory agencies at the to extend all emergency waivers beyond the pandemic.
“The trauma resulting from the COVID-19 crisis will lead to a clear growth opportunity for one-stop virtual visits and RPM solutions,” Camlek concluded.