Telemedicine ramps up for COVID-19. Is it here to stay?

Hospitals are bracing for a prolonged, indefinite surge in patients as the COVID-19 crisis, which was officially termed a pandemic by the World Health Organization this week, intensifies. The $8.3 billion federal funding response includes loosened restrictions on the use of telemedicine to treat Medicare beneficiaries, and the New York Times reports that many hospitals are swiftly ramping up their virtual care capabilities to screen and treat patients while containing the spread of COVID-19.

A senior hospital executive told me recently that health systems that expand their telehealth offerings to treat COVID-19 are unlikely to retreat if and when the virus subsides. If anything, the current crisis—and telehealth’s role in the response—will likely accelerate the development of digital front doors and virtual care options.

Retailers eye hospital partnerships

As healthcare demand continues to migrate from hospitals to outpatient settings, and a new business model emerges, retailers are increasingly turning their attention to partnering with a select group of providers.

Costco recently purchased a minority interest in SSM Health’s pharmacy benefit management subsidiary, with the intent of lowering medication costs for its members. And CVS Health announced plans to expand access to and raise patient awareness of a variety of kidney care services—including in-home dialysis and transplantation services—in partnership with kidney care provider Satellite Healthcare and Ascend Clinical, a clinical laboratory testing firm.

These emerging models possess significant benefits for both sides. On the one hand, providers can access retailers’ technological resources and consumer savvy to help transform how they deliver care. On the other hand, retailers get an opportunity to work with the significant populations served by providers—particularly entities with strong existing financial and institutional resources—to test, scale, and deliver innovations in care delivery.

Will eSports supplant the legacy ballgame?

If there’s one current trend that makes me feel distinctly “beyond the target demographic,” it’s watching my seven-year-old son watch videos of other people playing video games while they narrate them.

But despite my puzzlement at the entire concept—in my day we hoarded quarters and actually went to a brick-and-mortar arcade—broadcasts of eSports, often on streaming platforms, have begun to outpace traditional sports globally, and Nielsen is figuring out how to measure the broadcasts. At the same time, professional sports have experienced sustained declines in attendance over the last decade, part of which has been attributed to decreasing interest from younger fans.

It’s hard to imagine now, but the trends that have transformed industries including retail, dining, and travel might one day push spectator sports from the bleachers to the couch and a Twitch subscription.

Innovation at a glance

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Haydn Bush

Haydn Bush

Vice President
Haydn Bush has two decades of experience as a journalist and communications professional in healthcare and related fields. He currently serves as VP of Thought Leadership.
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