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Glen Tullman: In the future, telehealth will just be ‘health’

Even as healthcare innovation has advanced over the last few decades, knotty problems remain – especially with regard to alignment and user experience.

“Healthcare is more confusing, more complex and more costly than ever before, despite all of our efforts,” said Transcarent CEO Glen Tullman at the American Telemedicine Association’s annual conference this week.  

Spending decades working in the industry has made that clear, said Tullman, former CEO of Allscripts and, more recently, the founder of Livongo.  

After the dust had settled from the blockbuster merger between Livongo and Teladoc, he said, “I had a realization there was more work to be done.”  

For Tullman, that means taking on what he sees as two major issues in healthcare: user experience and “gaining alignment with the people who are paying the bills.”   

Transcarent, his newest venture, aims to address those concerns by overhauling the self-insured model and offering a telemedicine chat option to users.  

In Tullman’s view, the telehealth revolution spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic has unmistakable advantages, especially for people who may not have had access to care in the past.  

“Technology creates abundance,” he said.  

With virtual care, he explained, “everyone could access a behavioral health specialist” regardless of location, for instance.

(It’s worth noting, of course, that some researchers have found evidence suggesting that telehealth is replicating the digital divide, given that some people lack the tools to access it.)  

As more people turned to telemedicine, more health systems got in on the action, observed Tullman – with retailers, such as Amazon and Walmart, jumping into the fray too.

However, Tullman predicted, telehealth by itself won’t be enough going forward.  

At the end of the day, he said, “We’re going to see a vibrant telehealth sector.” 

But even as patients will expect a full virtual visit, they’ll also expect a simple connection with in-person care if necessary.   

In the future, telehealth “will just be called ‘health,'” said Tullman.

“We’ll expect health to meet us where we are.”

Kat Jercich is senior editor of Healthcare IT News.
Twitter: @kjercich
Email: [email protected]
Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.

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