The acceleration of telehealth due to COVID-19 brings with it a shared responsibility by stakeholders to ensure the safety and well-being of patients. That’s the message of Gidi Stein, M.D., Ph.D., co-founder and CEO of Israel-based MedAware, developer of an artificial intelligence-enabled patient safety platform. Stein recently shared his thoughts on the proliferation of remote care and its future with McKnight’s Home Care Daily.

Gidi Stein, M.D., Ph.D.

“Prior to the pandemic, everyone knew telehealth would be the next big thing in healthcare, but adoption lagged,” he said. “Today, however, COVID-19 has caused a massive acceleration in the use of telehealth. Consumer adoption has skyrocketed, from 11% of U.S. consumers using telehealth in 2019 to 46% of consumers now use telehealth — to replace cancelled healthcare visits.” 

Homebound seniors have benefited form the relaxed rules surrounding telehealth during the pandemic. But with the increased usage of telehealth — whether audio-only or both audio and video — comes a need for “smart solutions” to avoid medication-related errors, Stein said.

“Smart solutions are those that employ technology to flag actionable risks [involving the types of medications prescribed and their relevance to the patient’s current clinical state.],” Stein explained. “In order for these solutions to be smart, they need to be data-driven and use sophisticated algorithms to dig into huge amounts of data and identify a personalized risk, based on the specific longitudinal medical record of a patient, including demographics, encounters, labs, vitals, medical orders, diagnosis, procedures, etc. Such systems can save lives, reduce cost and enhance clinical efficiency.”

Achieving these solutions involves multiple stakeholders, continued Stein, who outlined the roles of these players:

• Healthcare providers should take the lead in defining next-generation tools and needs to ensure patients are treated safely. Elecronic Medical Record-embedded smart-decision support tools should be considered solutions that can empower clinicians to excel, if the right technologies are made available.

• Government should create the right incentives and regulations to enable and incentivize healthcare organizations to adopt such smart solutions.

• Insurers/payers should endorse such technologies for targeted population health management and financially incentivize provider organizations to use such technologies using risk-based models. 

“[Telehealth] is going to be the next phase of health care and that’s the way it should be,” Stein said. “But we need to provide doctors with the right tools so patients can be protected.”