On June 30, 2020, Winstead PC attorney Sarah Churchill Llamas participated in a panel discussion—How to Increase Enterprise UX?—as part of the UX & Telehealth RapidConf. Discussions centered on telehealth and its overall market-effect in the rapidly evolving healthcare landscape. The panel was hosted by Fabien Beckers (Arterys), and included other panelists such as Laura Berrara (ECG Management), John Fryer (Lumeris), and Balint Bene (bene : studio). Here are a few key takeaways from the discussion:

  • Payors’ continued vertical integration in the healthcare marketplace will continue to add rate pressure to health systems and providers and will only increase as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, telehealth may serve as a useful tool to bolster margins and improve a system’s operations in areas other than reimbursement, thereby giving strategic systems and providers the means to combat the increased pressure.
  • Slim operating margins already present in healthcare (and exacerbated by COVID-19) means that health tech companies need to be able to present a clear value-add upfront in order to remain competitive.
  • COVID-19 and the rapid expansion of telehealth might lead to a more hub-and-spoke model in the healthcare landscape. Larger health systems’ and vertically integrated payors’ continued consolidation means they will likely have a competitive advantage in the future, putting significant pressure on rural systems or individual providers.
  • The realization that healthcare no longer needs to be a brick-and-mortar service means that telehealth will likely evolve past just provider interactions and allow for the rapid expansion of remote monitoring methods, cohesive health IT systems, and integrated artificial intelligence tools to name a few.
  • One of the many hurdles that may limit telehealth’s growth in the future is the fact that, predominantly, providers are still held to an in-person standard of care. For the most part, this means that telehealth providers are still required to perform the same treatments and diagnostics they would perform on a patient that was physically before them, even though some of those treatments or diagnostics may not be possible through telehealth. This results in disparate credentialing and licensing regulations among the different states, and, accordingly, a lower reimbursement rate for telehealth visits.