3 Ways Telehealth Providers Can Build Momentum Post Pandemic - lady sitting at desk with laptop

3 Ways Telehealth Providers Can Build Momentum Post Pandemic

— Sahana Prabhakar, Healthcare Lead, Singapore 

When the first COVID-19 outbreak emerged in China, its health care system experienced a surge in demand, overwhelming hospitals. However, the fear of contracting the virus, paired with movement restrictions across Chinese cities, led to a different health care phenomenon – a demand for telehealth services.

In Asia-Pacific, 64% of consumers are opting for digital health devices and telehealth platforms for diagnostics over in-person visits. However, a gap still exists between people’s interest in telehealth and actual usage, due to a lack of awareness of its benefits and concerns around privacy.

Currently, telehealth adoption is driven by necessity and seen as a stop-gap solution during the pandemic, rather than an enabler of health care delivery. To achieve long-term adoption and retention, telehealth technology companies must advocate its benefits, such as data privacy and remote health monitoring.

Utilization can only increase when awareness grows, and concerns are alleviated.

As telehealth becomes mainstream, here is a look at three ways telehealth providers can increase adoption.


1. Prioritizing patient benefits

Telehealth offers numerous benefits like increased convenience for patients, reduced exposure to infectious diseases, cost reduction and improved care access. With 72% of Asia-Pacific consumers willing to postpone or cancel non-emergency visits and surgeries due to the pandemic, it is more important than ever for service providers to communicate the benefits of telehealth. When communicated clearly, these benefits can motivate further adoption.

For example, polyclinics in Singapore rolled out a digital blood pressure monitoring program, enabling patients with hypertension to monitor their blood pressure at home. A device would send readings to a care team, saving patients the weekly trip to the polyclinic. The right communication strategy for the programme led to the successful sign up of 250 people for the pilot launch.


2. Easing patient concerns

The transferability of patient data between health care providers is one of the key features of telehealth. Electronic health records, when implemented correctly, provides patients the convenience of unnecessarily repeating their medical history if they are moved between specialists. However, in today’s climate of information privacy concerns, how telehealth providers handle patient data causes distrust and slows adoption rates.

Health care providers must foster an open and transparent relationship with patients and the public to mitigate these concerns, sharing how patient data is collected, recorded and used. Communicating to patients in clear, everyday language by cutting privacy protection jargon and using visuals to foster better understanding is key. A recent example of this would be Noah, a digital men’s health clinic that has privacy baked into its value proposition: its offers patients an online platform to discuss topics like erectile dysfunction or sexual health with health care professionals, promising convenience and discreetness. Its privacy policy clearly states how it handles patient data, online analytics and the data protection safeguards it maintains. Another good example of this is MyDoc, another telehealth company that highlights how the country’s health ministry regulates the company and provides a clear FAQ page written in simple English, detailing the lengths it takes to secure patient information.


3. Getting buy-in from health care providers

It is imperative for telehealth providers to build trust and credibility with key stakeholders – doctors and physicians. For hospitals and their staff, telehealth adoption has its benefits as well: freeing up capacity by moving the monitoring and administrative requirements to support staff enables health care professionals to focus on the most critical cases.

To reach this group, telehealth companies must present this as an opportunity to go beyond the community of patients they currently serve, empowering them to support and counsel patients across borders. To do so, Telehealth providers should offer end-to-end services that ease the administrative process – from health screening, on-going monitoring, regular check-ins, specialist referrals and door delivery of prescription medicine.


Telehealth is here to stay

According to a Mercer report, 61% of Asia-Pacific consumers are receptive to telehealth. Another survey found that 94% of first-time telehealth adopters are interested in seeing a variety of doctors virtually. For telehealth firms focused on driving awareness and adoption, trust must be established with both patients and health care providers alike – strong communication is key to achieving this. Effective communication not only enables adoption, but also supports long-term patient retention. While telehealth companies are striving to acquire more customers, it pays to take a step back and nurture customer trust for the long term, ensuring that telehealth becomes more than a pandemic-related fad.