Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, health care technology has evolved as patients become more comfortable with telehealth visits, which is one of the health care industry’s fastest-growing integrations. Likewise, remote patient monitoring (RPM) and wearable medical devices are now essential to monitoring patients’ symptoms and a key factor in preventative health care. Alternative payment models are also becoming more popular due to technological advancements in the industry.
Founded as one of the nation’s first technology public relations firms, Comprise has added several health tech clients to our repertoire, helping these organizations to communicate their unique stories in the digital world. As a result of recent communications with health tech reporters and editors, we’re finding that these hot topics are top of mind, as they’re looking for information centered on forward-thinking strategies and the technology that enables these organizations’ initiatives.
Continued Rise in Telehealth
One of the biggest changes in health care since the pandemic is the rise of telehealth, as patients have become accustomed to and more comfortable with remotely connecting with their physicians. The rise of telehealth is significant for patients who live in rural areas, as they typically have to travel long distances to see their doctors or visit hospitals. According to a 2021 study, 26% of Medicare beneficiaries lack access to a desktop, laptop or smartphone. To help overcome these barriers, almost $1 billion from the American Rescue Plan (ARP) of 2021 was distributed to nearly 1,300 health centers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. territories to support a wide range of projects, 33 of which included improved access to telehealth. Many health care organizations are now offering telehealth services to further help their patients.
The Evolution of RPM and Medical Wearables
RPM also gained traction during the pandemic. Medical wearables are an essential part of RPM and include wearable tech devices such as ECG patches, blood pressure monitors, smart health watches, connected inhalers, biosensors — which allow patients to move around while collecting data on their movement, heart rate, respiratory rate and temperature — and, of course, Fitbits and other health- and exercise-monitoring devices.
Many patients monitor specific health parameters 24/7, and instead of long-term hospital stays, RPM helps physicians improve patients’ daily quality of life. RPM also helps mitigate health care costs, which many companies forecast to increase by 6.5% in 2023. RMP eliminates costly and time-consuming travel, reducing hospitalizations, emergency room visits and hospital stay times. Medical wearables can also detect early warning signs of health care conditions, helping both clinicians and patients to address preventative health care measures.
Alternative Payment Models
Progressive health insurers are turning away from traditional, antiquated fee-for-service payment approaches as they realize that this approach doesn’t serve our population well, particularly for providers managing a global crisis. Transitioning to a value-based payment system — with clinician payments tied to quality, cost-effectiveness and patient experience rather than volume — is the logical next step in health care reform.
Historically, insurers have paid physicians, hospitals and pharmacies by “unit of service,” such as office visits and elective procedures. During the pandemic, however, these services, which typically bring steady revenue to providers, decreased significantly. The value-based model provides incentives to clinicians by compensating the practices that meet performance goals and assume the highest level of accountability for whole-person care, including activities that address health inequities and social determinants of health. This model also benefits patients as more clinicians are beginning to focus on whole-person health care.
At Comprise, we are proud to work with complex, challenging and cutting-edge clients and excited to continue our journey assisting innovative companies in the health tech industry to achieve their communications and business goals. These organizations specialize in implementing the innovative strategies and technological advancements in their business models leading into the new year. The advancements in telehealth, RMP and medical wearables and alternative payment models are helping to coordinate better and more holistic health care for patients at every touchpoint.
If you’re a health tech organization looking for a dedicated, informed and sophisticated full-service communications team, reach out to us!