What's next for Telehealth (part 1)

Updated: Apr 11

Telehealth: 8 experiences to expect next.


I don't think I've ever seen such hype within healthcare as with the breakthrough of Telehealth (or Telemedicine). The possibility to now video call with your (para)medical specialist was all the rage in 2020. Out of necessity (due to you know what), the usage of this technology was suddenly allowed and made feasible in a healthcare setting. In the past months, we've seen the entire healthcare world buzzing about something most of us have been doing for the past 15 years already: video calling with others. Yet, it took a global pandemic for this widely used technology to become accepted within healthcare. Of course, I understand the complexity that legacy architecture, governmental regulations or privacy concerns bring to the table. But from this point forward, can we stop hiding behind those complexities? We now have seen how quickly some changes can be effectuated.


We need to focus on how the everyday experiences from using Skype, Facetime, and Whatsapp create specific expectations. People just expect the same experience in all parts of their lives. As healthcare providers, shouldn't we have the moral obligation to indeed live up to these patients' expectations? I personally believe this obligation is not to be underestimated because better health experiences create better engagement.





I hope that the excitement in healthcare for the breakthrough of this 15-year-old popular technology fades out rather quickly now. Let's not linger on the success of this small step, but rather look at the new experiences that are shaping the patient's expectations already today. It is essential to have an eye on what is happening in the outside world. New experiences are already accelerating and defining new expectations towards a thorough decentralisation of healthcare. Yes, that is precisely what telehealth brings about: the decentralisation of healthcare.


So, allow me to bring healthcare into the outside world with the examples below. May these expectations inspire healthcare providers to get ready for the near future because telehealth is more than just video calling.



1. Aggregators


Goods and services consumed online tend to grow exponentially. Then aggregators arrive at the horizon to bundle the incalculable amount of options onto one platform. Think of how amazon.com, booking.com or skyscanner.net aggregate the many suppliers in their industry. As a result, these platforms provide an overabundance of choice that generates a Fear Of Better Options (also known as FOBO) with clients. People tend to continue searching until fully convinced about one option (or less hesitant about the others). Today, the average purchase journey for a single hotel room lasts 36 days and hits 45 touchpoints. That is considerably longer than when fewer options were available.


What’s Next? >> The abundance of options risks making healthcare more confusing for people. What is your role in this future confusion?


As more telehealth solutions come to the market, aggregators will arise. Will this also generate a similar form of FOBO? Will patients more easily (s)hop from one consult to another? We've seen an increase in second and third opinions in the past ten years. With more options available to reach physicians, this trend will likely grow.

· Last year, GoodRx, the Californian startup already valued as a unicorn, launched a telemedicine price comparison service, amid growing demand during COVID-19 pandemic. Users can choose from 100 conditions and get information about telemedicine pricing and medication services.



2.Dedicated jobs to be done


The mere possibility of video calling will become a commodity. For Telehealth companies, it will no longer be about matching supply and demand. The purpose of a Telehealth service will be anchored around specific 'jobs to be done" for each party. Airbnb is not just about renting out places to people. It's about the authentic, local experience that is for rent. Kensho Health is a platform that simplifies not only discovery and connection between paramedics and clients but even so facilitates scheduling, communication, payments and after-care. Hims is a one-stop telehealth service for men's wellness and care. It’s about making something easy and accessible (to talk about) that previously was taboo.


What’s next >> The real focus for telehealth will be the integrated experience around a specific 'job to be done'. What is the ‘job to be done' you need to resolve?

  • Teladoc Health, arguably the global leader in virtual care with about 50mio users, is strongly making progression in chronic care management by including smart connected devices and personalised digital coaching in addition to the 24x7x365 access to health professionals.

  • Care, a telemedicine platform developed by Amazon (and currently being piloted with employees in Seattle), functions as a primary care teleconsult and delivers medication directly at their door.

  • Babylon evolved from a being chatbot to becoming a telehealth company while remaining focused on the job of "symptom checking".

  • Medbelle takes away the stress of surgery with personal Care Advisors who remove any outdated, lengthy processes along the treatment journey.



3. Remote control


In 2016, you probably saw the mind-boggling picture with a self-driving truck transporting self-driving cars. It might take a couple more years to be an everyday reality. More likely, we'll see specific applications of self-driving solutions that will remain (in some part) human-controlled. Einride, is a Swedish startup working to electrify and automate the transportation industry, is an excellent example. In June 2020, they posted the vacancy for a remote truck operator that will tele-control different trucks simultaneously. With the roll-out of 5G, this remote - yet instant - control type will radically increase.


What’s next >> Very often, telehealth will be about telemonitoring and telecontrol. How are you preparing for this new role in your care setting?

  • Tytocare offer medical exams done from the comfort of your home, remotely guided by physicians. With Tytocare, a healthcare provider can examine your heart, lungs, throat, ears, skin, abdomen, heart rate, and body temperature. It helps diagnose and treat many of the most common conditions.

  • Careology in the UK helps people with cancer and those supporting them to make the down days more manageable. Patients feel safe and in control. Family and friends are in close contact and look after patients with confidence. Physicians can work proactively to avoid complications and improve outcomes.

  • But stakes will become even higher. In 2019, a 5G-based remote surgery was executed in the Chinese city of Hainan, while his surgeon conducted the operation remotely from the city of Beijing, 3000km away.


These are the first 3, and perhaps most apparent, experiences we can expect in Telehealth. The other five expectations will be sent with the next one. Otherwise, this newsletter would be a bit too heavy, not? So expect more to come.


Do you already have some feedback? Do you want to talk to me about this in the meantime? Do not hesitate to contact me. I like to exchange thoughts. It would also be my pleasure to help you further determine what these new experiences will mean for your organization or company, regardless of whether you work for a pharma/biotech company, healthcare institution, consumer brand or start-up. Hit me up!


Healthusiastic greetings,


-Christophe-


PS. This newsletter is a run-up to my new Healthuisasm book. This new book should bring another piece of the puzzle to make the world healthier and happier. Gradually I want to share concerns and opinions with a broad community of health enthusiasts. Let this newsletter be an invitation to challenge my thinking exercises. If you think this exercise could be of interest to a colleague, friend or acquaintance, do not hesitate to forward this newsletter to them. By building a Healthusiasm community of people interested in customer experience, health marketing and digital health, we can make a difference together.


But of course, you can always find the newsletters on my website, podcast or Youtube, or Substack.