By Patty Post
Coming off the heels of a global pandemic, Americans have seen a drastic change in the healthcare industry first-hand. As the family dynamic in the United States continues to evolve, parents face new challenges in coping with healthcare needs. The self-employed bracket has boomed since remote work became a household name, and many people lost their jobs altogether, leaving many parents without adequate healthcare for their children and families or a general lack of available healthcare options.
Recent studies show that the most common barriers affecting families today are high costs and insufficient healthcare coverage, staffing shortages, logistics and transportation to seek healthcare, time and language barriers. Typically, when a child is sick, parents have to take time off work, miss meetings, arrange for doctors' appointments, pay for co-pays, tests, and prescriptions, and arrange for childcare. But as parents' needs shift, so does the healthcare industry, finally offering what has been so necessary –– telehealth services and at-home diagnostic testing.
Despite the fact that the number of Covid-19 hospitalizations has decreased since its high in 2021, patients are still interested in using telehealth services when possible. In fact, 73% of current telehealth users anticipate their usage of healthcare technology will increase in a post-pandemic world, according to Rock Health. This "consumerization" of healthcare is also prompting the new legislature to include changes in Medicaid and Medicare programs that enable the accessibility of medical and psychiatric therapies via interactive video-based telehealth when the Covid-19 epidemic was deemed a public health emergency by paying for virtual mental health consultations provided by rural health clinics and federally designated health centers. Then, this approach continued past the proclamation of the public health emergency. Other temporary Medicare services authorized during the public health emergency will remain in place through 2023, according to a December announcement from the Department of Health and Human Services. This will give HHS time to determine whether these services should be permanently added to the Medicare list of telehealth services.
Patients from low-income and rural areas are among those who are most at risk during public health emergencies. Even during non-pandemic times, many people find telehealth sessions more convenient than in-person ones. To that aim, telehealth services are increasingly addressing a wide range of medical issues that will address many healthcare barriers.
For parents, telehealth has provided a slew of improvements that have proved to be alleviating many challenges. A virtual visit eases the strain of travel time for working parents and cuts down on time missed from work or school. It also allows for faster treatment and lessens the risk for complications. Even though many parents were experiencing these video doctor encounters for the first time, virtually all of them were pleased with the visit and thought all of their questions had been addressed. Parents also reported that getting follow-up care and medications were streamlined.
Since Covid, Americans have experienced using at-home test kits and succeeded in doing so. We all witnessed it being one of the greatest solutions to access care during this global pandemic by reducing the spread of the virus through decreased person-to-person interactions. The ease, convenience, and accessibility of these tests gave people peace of mind they never had before. Parents will now see this trend in healthcare, giving them what has always been lacking. Healthcare from home may alleviate the need to go into a doctor's office or hospital, where one is susceptible to other germs and infections. Covid tests were just the beginning.
The state of health and wellness has significantly improved thanks to scientific advancement. Now that pharma has seen the success of at-home covid tests, they are becoming more inclined to launch more diagnostic home tests to help patients screen and take the first steps in getting proper treatment. This will include home testing for routine illnesses and diagnostics for the flu, strep throat, UTI and vaginal care, vitamin deficiencies, and nutrition. Eventually, this will become the new normal that will help alleviate the burden on the healthcare system and empower parents to make evidence-based decisions for their families. Having a more hands-on role in their diagnostic testing offers parents options to provide the next steps to seek the help they need.
The healthcare sector is always changing, from patients to policies and everything in between. There's no denying that the future of healthcare will help give parents advice and information that will help them manage the health issues that impact their children in the most effective way possible. By no means will we see it replace the need for in-person doctor visits when necessary, but having the two options will speed up the recovery process and reduce the financial burden on parents. The addition of more app-based healthcare technology allows individuals to be more involved with their own needs.
Patty Post is a businesswoman, mother of 3, and wife of 20 years. She is the founder of Checkable, a brand empowering consumers to make healthcare decisions from home through technology, education, and rapid diagnostics. She spent 15 years in various roles as a business development executive and marketing executive in medical devices and clinical research organizations.