Some 30% of in-person patient-doctor visits will shift to the digital world of medicine following the coronavirus pandemic, according to Paul Rothman, Dean of the Medical Faculty at Johns Hopkins University and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine.
The shift to telehealth in recent months has been both vital and rapid as person-to-person contact has been reduced to a minimum.At Maryland-based Johns Hopkins, one of the United States’ most prominent hospitals, the number of telehealth “visits” increased from a couple of dozen before the pandemic to approximately 5,500 every day. “About 30% of visits we used to have in person will be via telehealth in the future,” Rothman told the online OurCrowd Pandemic Innovation Conference on Monday.“Telehealth gives us the ability to reach out where we didn’t before. We are an international healthcare provider, and it grants us access to patients who didn’t want to travel.”Rothman told the conference – organized by OurCrowd, a Jerusalem-headquartered crowdfunding investment platform – that he sees both advantages and disadvantages in the developing field of telehealth-based patient consultations.“Telehealth has been very successful in terms of our ability to deliver care during the pandemic. Patients find it very convenient as they don’t have to leave their home, and are often more relaxed as there is no anxiety of visiting the office,” he said, adding that practitioners can benefit from seeing how a patient lives in their home environment. “On the downside, some visits have to occur in person to do physical exams, and that will still occur in the future. In addition, especially for new patients, there is a bonding that goes on in person that you cannot replicate during televisits.”The longevity or permanency of the shift to telemedicine is likely to depend on those who pay for it, Rothman added. In the US, the cost of telehealth consultants is commensurate to in-person visits. Should online consultants become more expensive, Rothman believes that uptake will likely decrease.While the acceleration of telehealth medicine was the immediate result of seeking to protect patients and healthcare providers, Rothman believes that some changes will be permanent.“The size of waiting rooms will go down in the long term, and there will be a lot of changes to ensure patient safety,” he said. “That has implications for the size of [hospital] spaces, the number of employees and their skill-sets.”Addressing the conference, OurCrowd founder and CEO Jon Medved highlighted investment opportunities provided by the current state of the private market in combination with new societal trends.“These changes in society, whether it is socially distanced work or learning, or new needs to protect ourselves from cyberhacking, these are the ‘new normal,’ which absolutely indicate a new opportunity to take advantage of big trends,” said Medved.“Today we see several companies who are growing in the pandemic, whose revenues are going up, who are acquiring new customers and who are both doing well and doing good.”