Until now, virtual healthcare could still be described as something of a novelty utilized by “early adopters” like those consumers that traditionally are the first to use a new technology.
I bet, until now, if you asked a healthcare expert about when virtual healthcare would become truly a customary part of our national health landscape, most would have predicted a gradual increase in use and a general market acceptance over roughly the next 10 to 20 years.
Boy, with the emergence of the Coronavirus, it sure makes me think those expectations are quickly changing.
As a consequence of the Coronavirus Pandemic and the Stay-At-Home orders and other emergency responses to the pandemic that we have been living out around the country, virtual healthcare is emerging as a significant part of our health care delivery system.
Many patients and their providers who have experienced the convenience of virtual healthcare might not want to go back to a traditional in-person archetype of care that’s been the age-old norm. At least as it relates to the blocking and tackling of our common, everyday healthcare needs.
Virtual visits have been cropping up as a covered service in many group health plans and even some Medicare Advantage plans recently. It sure seems now, though, that as a result of this pandemic the door has been kicked wide-open for greater utilization of virtual healthcare services across our healthcare system.
Lots of employers who largely didn’t give virtual health a whole lot of thought before the Corona crisis are paying more attention and even started touting virtual office visits as an important employee benefit. Many plans are now covering virtual visits and the like with no copays or out-of-pocket cost to employees and their dependents. (However, please check with your specific plan regarding cost.)
And, even Medicare is making great accommodations for expanding virtual healthcare as a Medicare benefit, at least temporarily until the pandemic situation runs its course.
WILL THIS GENIE EVER GO BACK IN THE BOTTLE?
I doubt it.