Virtual Health: Early Product Decisions
June 11, 2020 • Tommy White (PointClear Solutions)
3 Min Read
Virtual Health has both conceptually and practically evolved over the past decade. Although adoption and ongoing usage has steadily increased for Telehealth solutions, overall Virtual Health adoption has been slower than anticipated, until COVID-19. More than 60 percent of patients say the pandemic has increased their willingness to try telehealth, according to a survey by IT vendor Sykes. With this increase in adoption, most leading healthcare technology companies are either pivoting toward or increasing focus on Virtual Health in order to enable online patient care.
Want to see a few examples?
Since our teams at PointClear work closely with many large and small organizations, we hear and take part in many strategic conversations on this topic week after week. During those discussions we hear trends and consistencies while health IT companies and service providers are evaluating new features or solutions. We would like to share some of those below in the form of common statements or questions:
- “We need to add Telehealth to our offering!”
- Response: This seems to be the common starting point for most organizations and is fundamental within any overarching strategy. Telehealth and video visits are both demonstrated and proven approaches to provide remote patient care and coaching. These are synchronous in nature meaning that patient and the healthcare professional are interacting in real-time without the patient having to travel into the traditional office setting.
- Stay true to your strategy – This is a given, but even for the most senior leaders in the organization it’s easy to react to a pandemic with kneejerk product decisions and investments. Keep in mind that your product and/or service is successful because of the real value that it provides to your clients and end users. If Virtual Health complements your fundamental solution, then absolutely figure out next steps, if it does not, stay focused until you can clearly describe the revised value proposition.
- Be Specific – Although Telehealth has become the most visible component of Virtual Health, there are many other categories beyond Telehealth that include both synchronous and asynchronous models of care. One of the other categories targets remote monitoring at home. Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) can include integrations with personal monitoring devices, wearables, glucose monitors, ECGs, weight scales, and even smart speakers or virtual assistants. All of these are now connected and able to provide valuable information within the Virtual Health ecosystem. With an expanding definition of Virtual Health, you should be very specific about your starting point and simply state how each component can provide real value to your buyer and end users without overwhelming them with a multitude of integrations and end-points.
- “Virtual Health integration (or development) will be too expensive for our cross-platform needs.”
- Response: Most leading Virtual Health solution, app and device companies have evolved technically and are now providing extensive options for cross-platform partner support.
- Recommendation: If you find yourself limited in your partner options because they do not support cross-platform development or partner integrations, keep looking for a better partner. Most leading providers within the Virtual Health space understand that partners are required to push and pull their solution into larger markets with larger adoption. Because of this symbiotic relationship, they must support Application Programming Interfaces, starter kits for web & native mobile apps, and even provide sample code/communities across many programming languages. As a first step, ask your technology lead or development partner to determine feasibility and even alternative options if there are any concerns about cross-platform support or seamless integration.
- “How can I start small with Virtual Health?”
- Response: Without details, it certainly depends. Assuming that you have an existing product in the market or even an early prototype, an integration with a proven Virtual Health solution may be the fastest inroad, and initially the least expensive option.
- Recommendations: There are many proven, third-party solutions that will allow you to get started quickly and leverage add-in solutions or even access normalized data directly. This includes Telehealth solutions and consumer-driven data aggregators for personal monitoring devices. Determine the initial patient interaction that can accelerate your value proposition, lean on your technology team or proven partner to do some initial homework, then work toward an early discovery prototype to verify your concept.
- “Are there any emerging trends in Virtual Health that are also seeing increased adoption?”
- Response: Absolutely! Telehealth and virtual visits are now demonstrated and proven technologies that enable virtual patient care. There are also many proven technologies like Virtual/Augmented Reality that are continually expanding the definition of Virtual Health. Market sub-segments or niches within healthcare are opening the door for specialized solutions. These include assisted living, home health and even condition-specific solutions like cardiology.
Want to learn more about including Virtual Health in your product strategy or roadmap? In future posts, we will dive deeper into leading approaches and emerging trends that your organization can leverage. Have questions about your solution options before then? Feel free to contact us.