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How COVID-19 Transformed Healthcare Delivery

The pandemic came with great pain and suffering for many, but it also allowed telehealth and other technologies to flourish.

Waqaas Al-Siddiq DBA, PhD.

Healthcare delivery has experienced a major transformation in recent years. The pandemic became a catalyst not only for how healthcare was consumed, but how it was delivered. Prior to COVID-19, telehealth was present within the healthcare system but remained largely underutilized. Hesitation with trying new technologies in the medical community combined with a lack of insurance support resulted in limited adoption. Even with these obstacles, 76 percent of all US hospitals had some form of telemedicine offering, but it equated to a mere 0.3 percent of all appointments. Yet, even this small number of patients reported major improvements in wait times and ease of use with their telemedicine visits. Despite such feedback, telehealth remained underutilized because of healthcare providers’ and patients’ reluctance to adopt it.

It was not until access to health care was severely limited during the COVID-19 pandemic that telehealth became mainstream. COVID-19 was the catalyst that forced a vast majority of the population to experiment with many remote technologies, beginning with telehealth. The result: mainstream awareness and realization that there are many technologies that benefit healthcare en masse.  

Prior to 2020, telehealth was portrayed by providers to have many flaws, resulting in limited adoption and/or usage. They viewed it as a potential liability, were skeptical about proper privacy measures, and unsure of the technology itself. Consequently, physicians were reluctant to use it even if their practice or hospital network provided it. Once the pandemic hit, quarantines and social distancing severely limited access to care, forcing providers and patients to implement and use telehealth. In a few short months, telehealth use skyrocketed, resulting in a 766 percent increase in use.1 Both patients and providers reaped the benefits of telemedicine, becoming accustomed to it as a part of their care delivery. The pandemic fundamentally shifted how health care was being administered.

The Shift to Remote Care

Pre-pandemic, healthcare delivery was limited to in-person care, with doctor appointments and diagnostic tests performed in hospitals or in clinics. Even though remote technologies and telehealth were available, patients and providers preferred in-person visits to remote. There were several valid reasons for this. Firstly, the technology was nowhere near as advanced and user-friendly as it is today. Aside from this, patients felt they received better care and providers preferred the personal touch of in-person visits. This, coupled with the limitations of the type of care that could be provided remotely, made many patients reluctant. On the provider side, there were the added issues of underpaid reimbursements from insurance, restrictions on locations for visits, and privacy requirements. These stringent rules resulted in expensive technology fees to adhere to regulations.2 COVID-19 highlighted these issues and helped to alleviate them.

The mainstream use of telemedicine became a necessity during the pandemic as the continuation of in-person visits would jeopardize the public’s health and safety. Prior to the development of COVID-19 vaccines, social distancing was the most effective way to stop the spread of the virus. Healthcare systems had no choice but to find an alternative to providing in-person care.  Both providers and patients were stuck in a paradox. There was fear of COVID-19 on one side, and not receiving appropriate medical care on the other. Patients were left to decide between neglecting their medical care or adapting to telemedicine. Similarly, following the onset of the pandemic, regulatory bodies and government officials had to ease restrictions to support healthcare delivery due to lockdowns and social distancing guidelines.

Medicare was one of the first healthcare platforms to ease restrictions on telemedicine and how it operates. After that change occurred; many private companies followed Medicare’s lead. Reimbursements were greatly adjusted to entice more practices to use telemedicine.3 Shortly after, telehealth usage was 78 times greater than before the pandemic started.4 That rate of usage lasted a few months before stabilizing at 38 times higher.5 When medical providers were forced to use telehealth for many cases they would otherwise have scheduled in person, they experienced what technology can do for patient care.

The Benefits of Telehealth

Telehealth allows for more flexible scheduling and drastically reduces the duration of appointments by eliminating the need for transportation. In a highly inequitable system, telehealth improves access to care in areas where care had been limited. Patients are encouraged to regularly attend appointments and manage their health proactively, resulting in improved outcomes. In addition, telehealth prevents the spread of germs and infections that would normally be shared between patients and providers.6

The use of telehealth has greatly advanced primary care and access to care, leading many companies to hone in on telehealth. They can integrate innovative technologies within different disease modalities to provide more specialized care using telehealth. Innovative engineering allows many patients to receive diagnostic tests and treatments from home, such as diagnosing sleep apnea or cardiac issues. These tests can be just as safe and reliable, or even more so, as tests conducted in a hospital environment. They are also a fraction of the cost; costing as low as a fifth when compared to a physical lab test.7 These new technologies are helping countless patients and providers give and receive better and more equitable care.

One of the greatest benefits of telehealth is improved access. Doctors can see more patients and more patients can book appointments. Patients who otherwise would not have care or only have limited access to care can now be seen. Telehealth also makes healthcare more convenient by decreasing wait and travel times.

The pandemic came with great pain and suffering for many, but it also allowed telehealth and other technologies to flourish at a time of great necessity. Telemedicine went from being an afterthought to being part of the standard of care in most medical facilities. Patients and providers went from only viewing in-person health care as acceptable to using a multitude of different telehealth tools to get care and manage their health. New and emerging healthcare technologies are helping to integrate telehealth with specialized care. As a result, the telehealth market will continue to grow at an unprecedented rate. In a system with many historical flaws, emerging technologies and telehealth allow us the opportunity to course correct and improve the delivery of care in a way that was previously unseen.


  1. The State of Telehealth Before and After the COVID-19 Pandemic – PMC (nih.gov)
  2. The State of Telehealth Before and After the COVID-19 Pandemic – PMC (nih.gov)
  3. The State of Telehealth Before and After the COVID-19 Pandemic – PMC (nih.gov)
  4. Telehealth: A post-COVID-19 reality? | McKinsey
  5. Telehealth: A post-COVID-19 reality? | McKinsey
  6. Benefits of Telemedicine | Johns Hopkins Medicine
  7. What to Know About an At-Home Sleep Test | Johns Hopkins Medicine


Waqaas Al-Siddiq DBA, PhD, the founder of Biotricity, is a serial entrepreneur, a former investment advisor, and an expert in wireless communication technology. He has designed digital, analog, embedded, and micro-electro-mechanical products. As chief executive officer of Biotricity, a medical diagnostic and consumer healthcare technology company, he has guided the company through every stage of bringing its biometric remote monitoring solutions to market.