Telehealth is a Strategy No Matter Who Wins the 2020 Election

Originally published at: https://thejournalofmhealth.com/telehealth-is-a-strategy-no-matter-who-wins-the-2020-election/

As we try and navigate the last few hours (and possibly weeks) before the results of the 2020 presidential election are in, businesses across the country are trying to figure out how they might need to modify internal operations, if at all, depending on who gets elected to the White House – especially in the healthcare industry.

Let’s take a look at what a Trump versus Biden presidency would look like for health care.

If Trump WinsIf Donald Trump, the incumbent President of the United States, wins, many marketing messaging will be more “business-oriented” and focus on driving costs down and increasing efficiency. There will be an increased focus on larger hospital systems.

Trump believes in expanding the number of generic drugs, lowering prescription drug prices, eliminating the Obama’s “Cadillac healthcare” taxes, improving patient choice and expanding telehealth in rural areas. He takes a choice-first approach.

However,  given the lack of plan and focus over the past four years on healthcare, a continuing Trump Presidency seems less predictable and harder to interact with for health care providers.

If Biden Wins: If Joe Biden, contender and former Vice President of the United States, wins, the messaging will focus on accessibility to care and universal access. Public hospitals will be a particular focus, and there could be an increased demand for real-time foreign language interpreting for patients.

Biden also has a long-standing commitment to telemedicine and EMR interoperability. Healthcare companies would be more likely to engage in organized government relations activity if Biden wins.

Biden has been pitching a public health insurance option (like Medicare) that furthers expand coverage and also promises to negotiate lower prices/costs from hospitals. His public Medicare option allows individuals in the ~14 states that refused to take up the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid, eligibility to get free premium-access to these 4.9 million individuals. It also ensures that low-income individuals (those earning <140% of the Federal poverty level) get covered.  As patient access improves, the number of patient visits will increase and technology will help deliver healthcare more efficiently for both patients and providers. He takes an access-first approach.

No matter whether Trump or Biden wins the White House, healthcare will continue its trend of virtualization.” Telehealth platforms bring patients and providers together virtually with access and features such as foreign language interpreters, second opinions, related expertise experts, and ancillary functions (billing, patient education in real time). Telehealth allows more patients to be seen, physician efficiency increases and patients do not need to travel – very helpful during the COVID-19 crisis.

After the pandemic is over, providers and patients will be familiar and comfortable with virtual visits and there will be no going back. Virtualization will continue under a Trump or Biden administration, even after COVID-19 is defeated.

In addition mental health should not be overlooked. While over 220,000 people have died and 8.1Mm have been affected by COVID-19, millions more who do not have COVID are suffering from stress, depression and other mental distress and discomfort. These patients – more than other patients – can get healthcare without being physically co-present with their physician, and adoption and satisfaction rates from virtual visits have been rated high by patients. A focus on mental health will be critical for either administration as well.

Health care has always been a key issue for voters, and this year it has risen to the top for the American people.

We do know, even if we won’t know the results of the election on election night, that healthcare will be increasingly “virtualized” no matter which party wins. While politicians stress their differences in policy, both parties believe in expanding access to care, increasing patient choice and lowering costs. Telehealth plays an important role in all of those trends.

By Matthew Davidge, CEO of Bluestream Health

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