The Current State of Connectivity in Healthcare
According to Dr. Joseph C. Kvedar, senior adviser for virtual care at Mass General Brigham, professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School, and chair of the board of the American Telemedicine Association, “Zoom is a bit like the Kleenex of the industry.”
While “tissue” is the generic term and Kleenex is the brand, the ubiquity of the product has made it the standard for runny noses, and it’s the same for Zoom. “On the clinical side, it’s become the platform of choice,” says Kvedar, “and it’s integrated at Mass Gen into our electronic records system. We can launch calls directly from there.”
Prior to the pandemic, Zoom and similar tools were used occasionally, Kvedar says. Now, “just about everybody expects to do video and audio. It’s a pretty big change. We’ve dropped our regular conference lines entirely.”
Kvedar notes that patients love the convenience. They don’t need to leave their homes, and most visits occur on time. In addition, “the no-show rate is infinitesimal,” he says.
What’s Next for Zoom in Healthcare?
While Zoom video calls offer a way to bring doctor visits into patient homes, Kvedar makes it clear that “if all we do is video, then we’ve failed.” With the pandemic accelerating technology adoption by two to five years for all industries, including healthcare, there’s an opportunity to explore the full impact of telehealth at scale.
Kvedar points to potential advancements in three areas: first, remote patient monitoring for vital signs using connective tools that can alert doctors and help initiate video calls if patients experience complications; second, asynchronous connections that allow patients and clinicians to connect via messaging portals rather than in real time; and third, AI-driven chatbots and “symptom checkers” that can help point patients in the right direction.
“We don’t have enough healthcare providers to go around,” Kvedar says. “This lets us leverage skilled human beings to better benefit.”