What Happens When It’s Over?
It goes without saying that COVID has impacted nearly every aspect of our lives. It’s also obvious that our lives will never be the same because of COVID. No one really knows what the new “normal” will look like after COVID is gone and yes one day it will be gone. When is anyone’s guess but eventually it will be. Yet it’s foolish not to look ahead and speculate a little as to what the post-COVID world will look like and how this will impact our wacky world. So here’s our best guesses as to what will and will not happen in the post-COVID world.
1. Remote Monitoring is here to stay. Now we should say remote monitoring thanks to CGM was already on its way to becoming commonplace. Yet CGM systems aren’t the only toys that are increasing remote monitoring. Nearly every insulin delivery system whether it’s an insulin pump or Tyler enhances remote monitoring.
2. Telemedicine and virtual visits are also here to stay. The real question is will virtual visits become the standard with in person consults the outlier or will we in person office visits make a comeback? This gets more complicated when you consider that pharmacy retailers like Walgreens and CVS both want to become more involved in diabetes management. Using their large store footprint both Walgreens and CVS could adopt a dual model combining virtual and in person consults.
3. Telemedicine offers another conundrum of sorts. With no physical limitations a patient could theoretically pick a physician not by location or local healthcare system but by reputation or some sort of rating system.
4. Patient coaching is also here to stay but will become more algorithm driven. This is good news for companies like Livongo as it will lower costs with less humans involved. However the bad news Livongo’s competitors will also move in this direction increasing the likelihood that coaching platforms will only get paid for producing verifiable improvements in patient outcomes. Say goodbye to the monthly per patient fee revenue model and hello to at-risk contracting.
5. Diabetes management systems, what we call an Austin, will become commonplace. Unlike his brother Tyler which is an insulin delivery system which includes a connected insulin delivery device, CGM and app. Austin will include everything a patient needs to manage their diabetes no matter which therapy regimen they follow. Everything the patient needs their toys, apps, coaching and drugs will come in one box.
As we noted many of these changes were going to happen even without COVID. However thanks to COVID these changes have been accelerated out of necessity. On balance we see this as a net positive. With the removal of physical limitations it enhances the possibilities that patients will get the help they need without the hassle of an office visit. The fact is the patient’s smartphone will become the hub of their healthcare needs.
Now we should note that one thing will not change COVID or no COVID. As great as all this way cool whiz bang technology is the patient still must play with all the toys. Help might be more accessible but unless the patient follows the advice they are given when it comes to outcomes nothing much will change. As we have said many times the easy part is telling the patient how to manage their diabetes. The hard part is making them WANT to manage their diabetes.