A surge in telehealth could negatively impact business for London hospitals

A spike in telehealth innovation could cause a decline in business in central London hospitals as insurers encourage their members to move to digital.

Speaking to HM ahead of the Private Acute Healthcare Conference on 8 October LaingBuisson consultant Ted Townsend discussed the potential impact a rise in telehealth could have on hospitals in the capital.

‘It’s been a debate for a few years now, but there’s this idea that you can have your consultation online with either a GP or consultant, and with the advent of Covid insurers have been encouraging more members to have both types of consultation online.

‘The next logical step is to have your diagnostics or procedures done somewhere that is more convenient to where the patient lives rather than where they work, particularly as this cuts down on use of public transport,’ Townsend said.

‘It’s what we talked about a lot last year, which was the start to controlling the pathway,’ he added.

Changing referral pathways were a recurring theme throughout last year’s event.

James Sherwood, director of health and benefits management at Bupa UK Insurance, said traditional referral models were becoming outdated.

Bupa had introduced direct access pathways for cancer, mental health, orthopaedics and cataracts, and Sherwood said the model continued to evolve and was providing members with better access to care at more affordable prices.

Townsend, who will give a detailed overview of the state of London’s private acute hospital market at the conference next week, speculated how a boost in telehealth could affect London healthcare’s revenue stream, with fewer people commuting during the pandemic and, potentially, beyond.

‘Why would someone, who maybe used to come into London five days a week, but who now only does so three times a month, want to make an expensive commute into Central London just to go to a hospital when there are locally accessible alternatives that could be seen as safer from a Covid point of view?’ he said.

For more information and to register for the conference, visit www.laingbuissonevents.com