COVID-19 has redefined the rules of the game when it comes to how healthcare is provided and delivered throughout the world. A McKinsey survey has now confirmed that telehealth visits have increased from 11% pre-COVID to almost 46% of all consumer visits (to make up for cancelled appointments and walk-ins). With this massive move to digital health, it is being projected that up to $250 billion of current US healthcare spend can be virtualized in the post-COVID era.

The provider healthcare ecosystem in North America has been on the cusp of change for some time now and it will suffice to say that COVID-19 has provided the final push for the implementation of an integrated digital health strategy. Not only does an integrated virtualized healthcare system provide improved convenience and better access to care, it also greatly improves patient outcomes and makes the care-continuum more efficient.

However, challenges related to adoption of virtual care still remain. While 76% of the consumers surveyed are now interested in using telehealth, only 46% have used it. This may be attributed to evolving healthcare needs during the pandemic, a general lack of awareness of telehealth offerings, or even ambiguity in claiming insurance coverage.

On the providers’ side, concerns about security, privacy, integration needs for existing disparate systems, and other concerns around effectiveness and financial reimbursement may impact the adoption of virtual health in the post-COVID era.

And while investments and acceleration in the use of digital health may still prove to be a watershed moment in the history of healthcare in this part of the world, there’s a long way to go before access to care through virtualized systems becomes embedded in our care delivery systems.