A conversation with Oshi Health CEO Sam Holliday and Dr. Bonnie on post-COVID telehealth, digital healthcare, virtual-first primary and specialty care, and building the future of GI care.
Like virtual work, telehealth is here to stay
Sam: I think telehealth is here to stay. Just as the pandemic forced so many people to work from home, employers are going to continue work from home as part of their mix going forward. If more of life is virtual, at least as a regular part of things, then telehealth and virtual care fits well, too.
Virtual care now has much clearer demand plus more openness to reimbursement by payers and employers. Obviously a lot of capital has poured into scaling virtual care companies and enabling technologies. We’re seeing big mergers, too. All this has fueled more investments into care at home in general. Look beyond virtual care and telehealth. Home delivery of prescriptions has taken off in a big way. More at-home diagnostics are available than ever before. There are more home visit providers available. All these capabilities mean going to practices in person will become a smaller piece of the healthcare experience every year.
First virtual primary care, then specialties like GI
Sam: I think we’ll see huge growth in virtual primary care in the coming years. We’re seeing a lot of companies step into it. It makes perfect sense for primary to lead with virtual. Their PCPs can schedule in-person visits if they are truly needed to follow up on issues identified in telehealth visits. The next wave, which we are part of at Oshi Health, is virtualization of specialty care, like our focus on GI. I believe virtualization of specialty care will advance in the wake of the wave of primary care telehealth adoption. That is, once people try it and like it, as they did with the COVID-fueled wave of telehealth.
Will telehealth keep all its COVID-19 gains?
Bonnie: Some of the conversations around JP Morgan 2021 expressed a contrarian view. When real visits come back, there will be more telehealth than before COVID, but not as much as we might like or expect. What’s your thinking around that perspective?
Sam: I’m not surprised to hear that people believe that. I’ve heard it in my conversations with gastroenterologists, the specialty we focus on. Many of them believe they are going to snap back to in-person care. Some of that is driven by the fee-for-service (FFS) machine, an installed base that had been running smoothly, or at least predictably, for a long time. It’s tough for any established medical practice to go virtual-first while running a profitable business. It’s particularly hard to make that pivot for GI practices. These, as procedure-focused businesses, have a big anchor in fee-for-service, visit-based medicine.
Read the full interview here.