Survey: Healthcare industry experts predict breakthrough for telehealth over Covid-19. Is it just a bubble?

65% of healthcare experts expect that telehealth solutions will be impacted mostly by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Other digital health solutions fall behind. R2G’s new global industry survey on how the Corona crisis impacts the digital health industry explores impact of major digital health business segments.

Market players are rather pessimistic about the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the healthcare industry. Only digital health entrepreneurs see a positive influence on their business mainly driven by a higher user acceptance and improved regulatory environment e.g. digital therapeutic or diagnostic solutions (see the article: How Corona impacts the global digital health industry)

R2G has taken the pulse of the digital health companies, questioning them about the impact that the Corona crisis has on their business. The survey was conducted between March 24 and April 8, 2020. The sample size included 513 company representatives from Europe (49%), North America (26%), Asia (8%) and the rest of the world (17%). Download whitepaper: Impact Assessment Survey. How Corona Impacts the Global Digital Health Industry.

Which segments of digital health are most affected?

Amongst all digital health market segments, telehealth solutions and services will benefit the most. 65% of survey participants rate the Corona impact on telehealth solutions and services as the highest. The positive outlook for telehealth is getting even bigger when looking at the professional use of telehealth within HCP offices and/or hospitals. For those use cases 74% of participants expects telehealth to become the norm.

Leading telehealth providers are already feeling the impact on their use shortly after the onset of the crisis.

  • Teladoc reported 92% higher visit numbers in Q1 2020 compared to the previous quarter.
  • AmWell reported its patient visit volume was up 250% compared to the number of visits the company would normally see this time of year.
  • Push Doctor, a telemedicine company in UK, said its weekly orders had grown 70% since the outbreak.
Covid-19 impact on telehealth: breakthrough or bubble

Telehealth has been available for many years but has never reached mass markets. The Corona crisis is now seen as the breakthrough for this industry. As one of the survey participants puts it: “Teleworking and telehealth will finally be accepted.

Remote monitoring solutions are seen as digital health segment that will also gain more traction due to the increased need of distant patient observation. 42% rate the impact the Covid-19 pandemic has on digital remote monitoring high. One participant even estimated the size of the impact. “About 10-15% of sub-acute medicine can be solved remotely. This should be done remotely, the rest needs to be streamlined, and efficiency [needs to be] raised.

There is also a strong belief in the industry that companies that offer self-testing kits (31%) or data analytic tools (21%) will benefit from the increased need of remote testing and all kinds of disease data analysis and interpretation.

The general belief in the healthcare industry is, that the pandemic will lead to a broader acceptance of digital health tools with telehealth solutions being the spearhead. “Telehealth and self-testing are for the short term. In the long term, digital behavior change and digital therapeutics will benefit as well.

The impact of the pandemic on tracking and tracing solutions is rated only by 11% of the participating companies as high. This is noteworthy, as the discussion about easing the lockdown is closely linked to the introduction of tracing apps, in most of the countries concerned. Study participants differentiate between the effects of the crisis, which have a temporary and / or long-term effect on the individual segments of the digital health industry.

Most industry players (67%) believe that the impact the Covid-19 pandemic has on digital health solutions will last. Only 4% consider the influence on digital health to be temporary.

What does it all mean?

Despite the fact that the pandemic will cause unpredictable economic and human damage, the outlook for the digital health industry should be assessed positively. Some segments, such as telehealth and self-testing, are now in focus, others will follow.

It all depends on how the digital health industry meets higher expectations and increased acceptance and what is delivered. Otherwise it will just be a bubble as one participant puts it: “Some increases in telehealth will remain if we do it well enough. But it will decrease from the high levels, it will expand to over the next several months.

Today, the results of the “Impact Assessment Survey. How Corona Impacts the Global Digital Health Industry” can be downloaded here.

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