Telehealth and VR – 2024 Health IT Predictions

As we kick off 2024, we wanted to start the new year with a series of 2024 Health IT predictions.  We asked the Healthcare IT Today community to submit their predictions and we received a wide ranging set of responses that we grouped into a number of themes.  In fact, we got so many that we had to narrow them down to just the best and most interesting.  Check out our community’s predictions below and be sure to add your own thoughts and/or places you disagree with these predictions in the comments and on social media.

All of this year’s 2024 health IT predictions (updated as they’re shared):

And now, check out our community’s Telehealth and VR predictions.

Brad Younggren, President & Chief Medical Officer, Care Innovation at 98point6 Technologies
Telehealth and virtual care more broadly hold great promise and will continue to increase in breadth and depth in the healthcare system. In the next year, we’ll see further evolution of hybridized care models where parts of virtual care are leveraged to improve access and patient experience.

With the increased interest in in-home models, coupled with an evolving at-home lab testing market, telehealth and technology will be imperative to creating high quality outcomes in the home. The use of machine learning and large language models will also have a large impact in the coming years, increasing efficiencies and improving both the patient and provider experience. These forward-thinking approaches will help reduce provider burnout and ensure that health systems can put the right providers in front of patients at the right time.

Guy Friedman, CEO and co-founder at SteadyMD
We’ve seen a decisive shift toward managing chronic conditions using digital platforms. We believe that trend will accelerate further in 2024 as obesity medication options and supply grow. The increase in supply will trigger a race in virtual chronic care. Providers who can rapidly scale their workforces and technology to meet demand will lead the pack in this now highly competitive space.

Stephanie Lahr, President at Artisight, Inc.
In 2024, nurse leaders will drive the paradigm shift toward AI-enabled virtual nursing. This shift will represent a transformative path forward for healthcare organizations facing staffing challenges, retention issues, and the need for improved patient care.

Jonathan Shannon, Associate Vice President of Healthcare Strategy at LexisNexis Risk Solutions
2024 will see a continued expansion of novel care settings such as telehealth and retail health clinics, which will give patients more choices but will also further fragment the already fragmented healthcare ecosystem. These new players and classifications in healthcare, coupled with a drive to create interoperability, highlight the need for a robust identity management strategy for both consumers and providers. Healthcare organizations need to modernize the patient experience and meet the demands of today’s consumer-centered model of care while maintaining the security of sensitive data and attending to provider data management to ensure that the supply and demand for healthcare services are aligned.

Andrew Norden, Chief Medical Officer at OncoHealth
In 2024, I expect we’ll see greater interest in and adoption of oncology digital health solutions. Oncology has major potential for digital transformation, yet the field has lagged behind others in adopting virtual care solutions. Cancer care is becoming more and more complex, and with this comes an increased demand for support services for patients, including symptom management, mental health care, and nutritional support. I hope and believe that 2024 will be the year when more patients, providers, and payers embrace a virtual-first approach to improve access to cancer treatment and support.

Not only should existing oncology digital health companies see greater interest, but I predict more startups will emerge in the space. In addition, a growing number of employers will offer tech-enabled supportive care programs. Cancer is the top area of spend for most employers, which makes it a high priority when designing benefits programs. We already know that more than half of employers plan to offer a center of excellence approach to employees with cancer in 2024. I expect to see just as many expanding their benefits to include virtual supportive care.

Wyatt Oren, Director of Sales for Education, Future of Work, and Telehealth at Agora
AI-driven Growth in Telehealth – Telehealth is rapidly becoming more commonplace as patients and providers adjust healthcare delivery norms and will only continue to outpace expectations in the coming years. Building on the great strides already made in accessibility and adoption, I am confident that 2024 will see even faster growth as convenience and personalized care continue to drive superior patient outcomes. AI integration will be a key element in driving these advances.

Intuitive symptom checkers and advanced chatbots will allow patients to access guidance, help, and even diagnosis, while physicians leveraging AI’s analytical capabilities will swiftly identify conditions, understand patient needs, and provide tailored treatment plans. With a more comprehensive view of patient health and care, the new year will be marked by delivering exceptional care that results in healthier, happier patients – in any setting.

Mimi Winsberg, Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer at Brightside Health
Suicide risk, anxiety, and depression are at an all-time high among teens. I anticipate 2024 will bring more focus on solutions to this crisis. There will be an emphasis on delivering more accessible, affordable, and effective care to teens. Solutions directed at teens are likely to be more tech-enabled, and I hope with this will come some examination of the role that technology and social media may be playing in mental health and illness, and a shift from reactive care to preventative care.

Brianna Zink, RN, MSN, Sr. Director of Healthcare Product Strategy at Infor
While 2023 marked the end of the Covid-19 public health emergency in the US, the pandemic has spurred growth in the virtual nursing real, which is expected to continue to grow into the next calendar year. Virtual nursing, which I would argue may have its roots in telehealth concepts, is making a rise as an efficient way to ensure patients receive timely, quality care and to offer nurses flexibility in their work and ultimately reduce burnout and attrition. This is proving to lighten the workload for nurses and other caregivers at the bedside while also providing more flexible work options for nurses.

Lyle Berkowitz, CEO at KeyCare
One trend to look for in the new year is a wider use of virtual care beyond primary care. Specifically, health systems will look to collaborate with virtual care specialty providers, which will offer two significant benefits. First, virtual partners can help health systems decrease waiting times, evaluating new patients quickly by working down waitlists. Second, virtual care teams can help busy health system specialists manage chronic care patients, freeing up more of their time for new and/or more complex patients.

Brad Kittredge, Co-Founder and CEO at Brightside Health
Digital mental health will be ingrained in Medicaid and Medicare. Medicaid is the single largest payer for mental health services in the U.S., and one in four Medicare beneficiaries are living with mental illness, yet only 40-50% receive treatment. There’s a clear need for better mental health services, and digital solutions provide a clear answer to the supply-demand challenge. With CMS evaluating telehealth flexibilities and consumer appetite for digital tools only increasing, I envision that digital mental health will become increasingly more popular and available to Medicaid and Medicare beneficiaries.

Rick Kubina, Director of Research at CentralReach
Tech Integration w/in Healthcare – The integration of new and emerging technologies like virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) plays a huge role in the accelerated growth and development of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and related intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) care. With VR and AR at our fingertips, BCBAs, social workers, and therapists can easily and efficiently adopt and apply these technologies to bridge the gap between clinic and home care. Through VR/AR, those with ASD/IDD are able to learn social skills, practice daily tasks, and navigate unfamiliar situations that are difficult to work on in theoretical scenarios or on paper. VR/AR can replicate real-world situations in a virtual, yet, realistic setting that helps individuals acquire skills, enabling independence in one’s personal life, educational endeavors, or career journey. The impact tools like VR/AR can have on a field such as ASD/IDD care is immense and will be brought to the forefront in 2024.

Anish Sebastian, Co-founder and CEO at Babyscripts
Don’t sleep on AR/VR – Augmented and virtual reality technology has been quietly but rapidly making inroads into the healthcare industry. While still in its nascent stages, and coming up against the same privacy and safety concerns surrounding AI adoption, AR/VR technology could be the sleeper hit of 2024 that outlasts the hype of volatile stars like generative AI.

Be sure to check out all of Healthcare IT Today’s Telehealth and VR content and all of our other 2024 healthcare IT predictions.

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