How Health Innovation and Telehealth are Shaping the Future of Health Delivery

August 19, 2023

When the pandemic hit in March 2020, my two-bedroom Los Angeles apartment became a home office, an elementary school, a nursery, and a telepsychiatry practice. Friday, March 13, I saw patients in person from my well-furnished UCLA suite and the following Monday I set up in a corner of my bedroom, booted up a new (to me) program called ‘Zoom’, and tried to adjust my camera so no one could tell I was sitting cross-legged against my dresser. I became an expert at muting and unmuting to protect wary patients from the sounds of my three children in the background. I struggled through technical difficulties, varying video quality, and unexpected anxiety about starting a new patient on a controlled substance. Was I being irresponsible? What was I missing by not evaluating them face to face? 

As physicians, we were forced to adapt. While in the beginning my colleagues and I worried over providing the quality care we had been trained to expect of ourselves, over time we realized the benefit and the possibilities. Years later, I have quite a few patients I’ve only ever seen virtually, and we’ve done great work together. Gone are the days of having to reschedule because a patient got stuck in traffic, got caught up at work, or couldn’t find parking. People can get medical care during their lunch break or while their toddler goes down for a nap. 

The COVID pandemic sparked mass innovation. Smart, passionate people took a situation where we were all forced to ‘shelter-in-place’ and turned it into a medical revolution.

Carine Carmy, Co-Founder and CEO of Origin, used her own story as motivation to increase access to care. She went through years of misdiagnoses and ineffective treatments before she discovered the power of pelvic floor physical therapy in treating not only pelvic pain, but dozens of other ailments for women and individuals with vaginal anatomy. As part of launching during the pandemic, virtual care was baked into Origin’s roots. The company is now the leading U.S. provider of women’s health and pelvic floor physical therapy.

Another entrepreneur and educator, Ade Adesanya, co-founded Movn Health, a telehealth company championing the fight against cardiovascular health disparities through innovative telehealth programs. Their groundbreaking virtual cardiac rehab program is used by leading organizations like BlueCross and Kaiser Permanente to improve cardiovascular outcomes for their members.

Dr. Steven C. Moyo (DocMoyo), a Board-Certified Physician, grew tired of seeing too many Black and Immigrant people die of preventable deaths, a disparity that only grew during the pandemic. He founded Welfie, a ”Wellness Selfie” that gives people a regular snapshot of their health so they can see the big picture of their wellness journey. The company’s mission has been to guide people to take control of their health by offering accessible education, welcoming communities, and once-exclusive resources.

These companies are just the beginning of improving not only access to care, but access to quality care. Of course, as with any technological revolution, there are dangers and considerations of telehealth. Without the need for a brick-and-mortar location, a local private practice can now, hypothetically, scale to a nationwide company and employ thousands of physicians. How do we ensure the medicine remains standard of care? How do we determine when someone needs in-person care? And, more importantly, have we done the work to build local networks to point them in the right direction? 

How do we make sure expansion doesn’t equal dilution?

And only time will tell what AI’s role will be in medicine and telehealth. There are clear benefits of super algorithms pushing medicine into a new age of personalized care that utilizes an individual’s full life history, environment, and genetics. Still, these remain tools for the human physician to give better human care. Will that one day change? Will we ever have AI doctors? Could an AI system allow a psychiatrist and therapist like me to ‘see’ multiple patients at once? Would we want that?

Telemedicine is likely here to stay. The pandemic forced our society to open a giant door for access to care and it’s going to be very hard to justify closing it. I learned medicine in a large academic center where people came from all over the country to receive top-tier treatment. I remain excited about what new and innovative ways will change the norms and bring state-of-the-art medicine to the people, wherever they may be.


About Author:

Dr. Justin C. Key is a psychiatrist and science fiction author. He co-founded Regeneration Psychiatry, a growing insurance-based general psychiatry practice committed to providing high quality, individualized, accessible, and inclusive mental health care to patients in greater Los Angeles and throughout California. His debut short-story collection The World Wasn’t Ready for You will be out from HarperCollins this fall. You can follow his journey at and @JustinKey_MD on all social media platforms.