Telehealth has received a major boost in demand and supply due to COVID-19, creating a significant opportunity for investors. However, there are several key IT and security considerations that must be assessed to ensure that any investment is wise and well-protected.
Originally projected for 19% annual growth according to Global Market Insights, telehealth received a major volume increase as the COVID-19 pandemic spread, which forced many health care providers to offer telemedicine appointments to protect operations and provider personnel. In addition, the federal government as well as many commercial payers relaxed regulations for telehealth providers. And finally, demand shifted significantly with people avoiding physical interactions and unnecessary trips, with many reporting satisfaction with the service model.
While patients can be served via a wide range of solutions, there is no single provider mature enough to meet the full range of necessary services. This gap in the market is an opportunity for private equity to build a scalable platform that could support multiple add-ons and consolidate the highly fragmented telehealth market. The right opportunity can only be qualified by assessing the scalability and sustainability of the target’s platform against high-growth scenarios.
A mature telehealth platform does not simply connect a provider and patient over the internet; it provides the same level of comfort and care to patients as they would receive by in-office visits. A mature platform also integrates with providers' front-office and back-office applications for seamless scheduling, processing documentation, test results and imaging, and billing and coding invoices. To identify risks and opportunities in telehealth deals, an effective IT and cyber due diligence approach should focus on five key areas:
1. User experience for patients and providers: Health care workflows and care coordination are fundamentally meticulous operations, and moving these lifesaving workflows into the virtual space is uncomfortable for many operators. Telehealth is a new concept for most patients and providers; they would need a very simple and secure user experience that could give the same level of compassion and care as an office visit. A mature telehealth platform would exceed user experience by providing:
- Low system requirements and support for a wide range of operating systems
- No latency in a low-bandwidth environment
- Easy-to-use forms to collect pre-visit background information and consents
- Virtual waiting rooms with educational or revenue-generating advertising content
- Post-session follow-up and recommendations
- Session recording for post-follow-up review
- Patient responsibility and price transparency tools
- Payment portals with ApplePay and other electronic payments accepted