The COVID-19 pandemic fast-tracked an already expanding telehealth industry, and while there is no doubt about the convenience this will create for health consumers, the complexities of implementing these practices go far beyond the creation of apps for patients to communicate and share data with their doctors.
Janice M. Suchyta and Andrea Linna, Partners at law firm McGuireWoods, are advising IT companies, software developers, and medical device manufacturers as they navigate through this complex new world of digital healthcare.
They know that as the industry expands, so too will the ever evolving rules and regulations that companies will need to follow. It might seem daunting to stay on top of those restrictions, not to mention how public and private sectors will work together to share sensitive patient data across multiple platforms, but the lawyers share what they are seeing, to help you know what to expect from this exciting new world.
“There's going to be a huge trend in regards to developing data platforms that are interoperable so that everyone is on the same system and is able to use these interchangeably without having to use different platforms,” says Janice, “It's going to be very exciting.”
Along with data platforms that communicate with each other, there will also be apps where a doctor or care provider can monitor patients through a computer or wearable. That’s right, interconnectedness is the key to the future of digital healthcare on many levels.
On-demand healthcare, Janice and Andrea say, is headed beyond primary care. Behavioral health, psychology, and tele-psychiatry will also be added to the mix. Data is and will continue to be a necessary tool for providers to care for patients at a distance, and that is where the complex regulations come in, as you’ll hear in this podcast episode. Companies will also need to invest in data security, and stay current with how to protect this sensitive data in a world where hackers and breaches are top of mind and make people hesitant to share personal information.
Tune into the episode to begin to understand some of the complexities of digital healthcare and how it will change how providers give care and patients receive it, especially in the post-COVID-19 world where virtual will certainly be here to stay.
Name: Janice M. Suchyta
What she does: As a Partner at McGuireWoods, Janice advises health IT companies, technology companies, software developers, biotech companies, network device and medical device manufacturers and private equity and venture capital firms in regulatory matters.
Words of wisdom: “There's going to be a huge trend in regards to developing data platforms that are interoperable so that everyone is on the same system and is able to use these interchangeably without having to use different platforms. It's going to be very exciting.”
Name: Andrea Linna
What she does: As a Partner at McGuireWoods, Andrea helps healthcare companies navigate telehealth, telemedicine, remote patient monitoring, different emerging technologies, HIPAA, and healthcare IT such as electronic medical records. She also works with healthcare companies across the spectrum on mergers and acquisitions and other regulatory compliance issues.
Words of wisdom: “2020, as terrible as it was, really was a breakthrough moment for tele-health and we saw this great advancement, reduced regulatory burdens, widespread adoption.”
Top takeaways from this Across the Table episode
★ Artificial intelligence as an investor opportunity. The collection of data in healthcare is widespread among a range of providers. Now the question is, how can we use this data for better health outcomes? “There is a huge uptick in regards to value-based care models,” Janice observes on the podcast.
★ Future reimbursement for telehealth is in question. Legislators had to quickly change reimbursement laws when the pandemics first hit. Now, state and federal legislators are figuring out what virtual care payments look like post pandemic. For example, lawmakers in Idaho announced changes made to telehealth reimbursement are now permanent.
★ Now is the time to consider the post-pandemic environment. Telehealth, digital health, and wearables create a tangle of laws and requirements. Companies need to think not only about what to do now, but also how they will stay in compliance post-pandemic.
[02:00] Pandemic fast-tracked digital healthcare: Janice discusses her background and notes that the changes in digital healthcare are only going to continue.
[4:00] Connected health: Janice describes why health data systems have to be engineered to work together and why we’ll likely see more of them.
[06:21] On-demand healthcare: The pandemic has forced the adoption of remote healthcare, which is only going to continue across different areas of care. Janice outlines the areas where we will see increased investment in telehealth, including in behavioral health and remote patient monitoring.
[10:27] AI tools are an investor opportunity: Janice talks about how AI will help make meaning of the different data points collected by apps and remote monitoring devices.
[12:52] Digital health stakeholders are changing: Thanks to conditions brought on by the pandemic, government entities and even government regulators are jumping on the digital health bandwagon.
[14:03] Virtual reality in digital health: “We always think of virtual reality as just your teenager using it for a video game,” Janice observes before noting the investment opportunity in VR and how it is being used in healthcare settings.
[14:54] Robotics explosion: Robotics have been used in surgery for a while, but there's a trend in using robotics outside of that — even for daily patient care.
[16:07] It’s all about the data: Data is the top regulatory issue Andrea sees in healthcare right now. “Digital health — in its essence — it's really about healthcare data,” she says, outlining the various concerns when it comes to collecting, managing and protecting data.
[18:24] The future of payments for virtual care: There’s a “flurry” of state and federal legislation dealing with tele-health and reimbursement to define what it will look like post-pandemic.
[21:00] Changes on the enforcement front: Andrea doesn’t think new regulations (due to the pandemic) will be rolled back overnight, but she sees some areas — like HIPAA regulations about how providers can communicate with patients — changing eventually.
[23:14] What’s next?: Andrea believes there’s a lot more innovation to come thanks to telehealth becoming much more accessible to consumers.
This podcast was recorded and is being made available by McGuireWoods for informational purposes only. By accessing this podcast, you acknowledge that McGuireWoods makes no warranty, guarantee, or representation as to the accuracy or sufficiency of the information featured in the podcast. The views, information, or opinions expressed during this podcast series are solely those of the individuals involved and do not necessarily reflect those of McGuireWoods. This podcast should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state and should not be construed as an offer to make or consider any investment or course of action.