STAMFORD, Conn. – Spectrum Enterprise, a part of Charter Communications, Inc., today announced the findings of a year-long study revealing that while two-thirds (65%) of the country’s healthcare organizations feel that their telehealth services were very successful in meeting the needs of unprecedented patient demand, they also encountered challenges that they’ll need to prioritize as they look to their long-term strategies. It was conducted by HIMSS Market Insights in collaboration with Spectrum Enterprise.
The study, Telehealth in Overdrive: Intelligence on a Year in Adaptation, found that nine out of ten healthcare organizations (e.g. hospitals, healthcare systems, ambulatory facilities) plan to continue to increase or diversify their telehealth services over the coming months. The top two challenges to overcome they say will be patients’ lack of connective devices (e.g. smartphone, computer) and their lack of robust and reliable access to the internet or mobile phone service. This is a change from only a year ago when healthcare organizations said the top challenges to telehealth initiatives were the lack of comprehensive reimbursement policies and lack of patient awareness and adoption.
About nine out of ten healthcare organizations were offering or piloting some telehealth services in fall 2019, but now almost all have implemented offerings (98%). From February to August 2020, survey participants estimated they had, on average, a 145 percent increase in telehealth use. Faced with that volume, the focus at the time was not on future needs. Only 28 percent of healthcare organizations surveyed in the summer of 2020 said that their telehealth decisions had been guided by a long-term strategy, and only about one-third (32%) were including their information and communications technologies (ICT) vendors as key partners in their planning. That said, a shift in mindset took hold by fall 2020. Half (50%) of those surveyed now said they were making telehealth decisions based on long-term effectiveness, and 44 percent viewed ICT vendors as important partners in the process – up significantly from early pandemic implementations.
“It is impressive how quickly healthcare organizations turned up their telehealth services to meet the needs of their patients and providers,” said Cliff Dinwiddie, Senior Director, Vertical Programs at Spectrum Enterprise. “And while these elevated levels of adoption will plateau to some degree, our research shows that telehealth use will only continue to grow. This is a pivotal moment for healthcare organizations to focus on their long-term strategy and the infrastructure they need to support it. It’s a missed opportunity for healthcare organizations if they are not elevating discussions with infrastructure providers to collaborate on their telehealth strategies.”
Future Telehealth Plans
Most healthcare organizations (94%) said that they will be continuing to invest in their technology infrastructure to support the ongoing increase and diversification of telehealth services. Specifically, survey participants said they will be investing in the following areas in the coming months:
● 53% are continuing to invest in secure video platforms to connect providers to patients
● 41% in robust data connectivity at the organization (e.g. broadband, fiber internet, fiber Ethernet)
● 41% in a secure video platform to connect providers with each other and staff
● 35% in unified communications platforms at the provider end
● 35% in managed network services at the organization (e.g., SD-WAN, managed WiFi, managed routers, managed security)
“The pandemic and the explosion in telehealth required many healthcare organizations to quickly invest in technologies that support access to their patients,” said Lauren Goodman, Director, Market Intelligence at HIMSS. “Of course, greater accessibility increases risk. As we know, with more entry points to the network, the more that network is at risk at a critical time. It’s important to confirm your technology investment mix not only fits your current needs, but can flex to meet your long-term strategy.”
About the Study
The study, Telehealth in Overdrive: Intelligence on a Year in Adaptation, surveyed healthcare organizations (e.g., hospitals, health systems and ambulatory care facilities) at three points in time: September 2019 (125 respondents) for a pre-pandemic assessment; August 2020 (304 respondents) focused on during-pandemic changes; and September 2020 (308 respondents) for a forward-looking understanding of telehealth plans at these organizations. Additional insights from the study are discussed in Telehealth 2.0: Developing a Long-Term Strategy, a HIMSS on-demand webinar.
HIMSS is a global advisor and thought leader supporting the transformation of the health ecosystem through information and technology. As a mission driven non-profit, HIMSS offers a unique depth and breadth of expertise in health innovation, public policy, workforce development, research and analytics to advise global leaders, stakeholders and influencers on best practices in health information and technology. Through our innovation engine, HIMSS delivers key insights, education and engaging events to healthcare providers, governments and market suppliers, ensuring they have the right information at the point of decision. Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, HIMSS serves the global health information and technology communities with focused operations across North America, Europe, the United Kingdom, the Middle East, and Asia Pacific. Our members include more than 80,000 individuals, 480 provider organizations, 470 non-profit partners and 650 health services organizations.
About Spectrum Enterprise
Spectrum Enterprise, a part of Charter Communications, Inc., is a national provider of scalable, fiber technology solutions serving many of America's largest businesses and communications service providers. The broad Spectrum Enterprise portfolio includes networking and managed services solutions: Internet access, Ethernet access and networks, Voice and TV solutions. The Spectrum Enterprise team of experts works closely with clients to achieve greater business success by providing solutions designed to meet their evolving needs. For more information, visit enterprise.spectrum.com.
Spectrum Enterprise has a team of over 100 experienced professionals focused exclusively on the healthcare industry, and all of them are required by the company to become HIMSS Certified in Healthcare Technology Sales.
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