Telehealth extends and expands the current reach of healthcare. It shifts the traditional point-of-care from the hospital rooms and clinical setups into the comfort of the patient’s house itself.
The US telemedicine market is expected to reach $3.5 billion by 2022. The global telehealth market on the other hand which was at $11.28 billion in 2019, rose to $30.9 billion in 2020 and is projected to reach USD $91.9 billion by 2026.
As telemedicine continues to deliver raised standards of care for the healthcare industry, offering patients the option to avail virtual care is critical to remaining competitive in the current landscape.
However, before you can jump onto the telemedicine bandwagon and decide to build a telemedicine platform for your own practice, it is important to understand how telemedicine is currently transforming the healthcare industry and the reasons behind its skyrocketing growth.
Reasons behind the rapid growth of telemedicine
Revolutionized network connection and internet speeds, widespread usage of smartphones and rapidly changing consumer preferences have all played a pivotal role in the increased adoption of telemedicine by the healthcare industry.
1. Change in patient preferences
The current generation of patients is tech-savvy. They expect faster responses from their health systems.
Instead of conventional forms of healthcare delivery, they expect the care providers to be able to leverage technology to improve treatment speed and overall outcomes.
Telemedicine makes all of this and much more possible. If all other needs can be met from the comfort of their own homes, why should healthcare delivery be any different?
Millennials are at the forefront of embracing new technologies. In fact 74 percent of millennials said they would prefer telemedicine over traditional in-person healthcare visits.
It’s not the younger generation that prefers the comfort of telemedicine. The benefits of telemedicine are also recognized by the elderly who no longer have to make a visit down to the doctor’s clinic for their visits.
2. Onset of the pandemic
Telemedicine was around long before the COVID-19 pandemic but the global health emergency has given it a burst like never before. With widespread social distancing measures in place and increased risk of infection people preferred to opt for virtual consultations over in-person visits.
A recent survey by deloitte found that the user base for telemedicine more than doubled during the pandemic. Moreover, 73 percent of users who had never used telemedicine prior to the pandemic reported that they are now willing to do so.
3. Technological advances
Smartphone technology is now ubiquitous. Combined with faster internet connectivity that allows for video consultations without any lag, technology has given a much needed boost to the telemedicine industry.
Technology has also allowed for replacement of paper-based medical records with electronic health records.
Integration of telemedicine with other medical software like EHRs, appointment scheduling and billing software has led to streamlining of the healthcare delivery system.
How is Telemedicine Transforming Healthcare
1. Making healthcare services more accessible
Distance is no longer a factor when it comes to availing healthcare services. Telemedicine has made it possible for people even in remote areas to get the care they need through virtual consultations.
Telemedicine is also making healthcare accessible for patients who can’t make a trip to the hospital.
Since follow-up appointments can be done virtually, it saves the patients from commuting to and fro from the hospital or healthcare facility, and get optimum levels of care from the comfort of their own homes.
2. Advent of remote patient monitoring
Doctor’s no longer have to rely on simply the subjective descriptions of patient’s symptoms to formulate the treatment plan.
They can actually make data driven decisions based on recording of patient vitals through remote patient monitoring.
Connected medical devices capture the patient’s vitals such as pulse, temperature, respiration rate, blood pressure etc and transmit it to the physician. It works even better than inpatient care.
In hospitals, nursing staff records patient vitals a couple of times a day. With telemedicine, the physicians get a comprehensive overview of the patient’s condition and can therefore treat them better.
3. Telemedicine for specialized care
Telemedicine is finding widespread applications even in areas that require specialization such as cardiology and dermatology.
Telehealth raises the standards of care for geriatric patients. What is less known is that it is also great for paediatric care.
Children are much more interactive when virtual consultations take place in their home environment. This allows for better diagnosis of behavioral conditions in the childhood and their subsequent treatment.
4. Lowering of instances of physician burnout
Telemedicine is proving to be effective in streamlining physician workflows, reducing no-show appointments, easing the burden on the physicians and thus helping them combat burnout.
With virtual interactions, providers are at lower risk of burnout as they can manage appointments more efficiently.
The convenience that telemedicine provides adds value not only to the patient’s lives but also that of the healthcare providers.
Having access to patient data in the EHRs helps them be better prepared for the appointments. It also reduces the levels of stress they experience.
5. Increased patient satisfaction and positive health interactions
Telemedicine helps in streamlining patient appointment scheduling. Long wait times are one of the major sources of negative patient experiences. Virtual appointments eliminate wait times, resulting in positive patient experiences.
While it is assumed that telemedicine lacks the comfort of in-person interactions, users reportedly are more happier with virtual visits.
Since the providers are not in a hurry to whisk off to see their next patient, it also results in quality interactions leading to increased patient satisfaction.
6. Increasing Cost-effectiveness
Telemedicine results in cost saving for both the patients as well as healthcare providers. For the patients, the biggest cost saving factor is the elimination of commute to and from the doctor’s office.
For the healthcare practitioners, switching to telemedicine means incurring initial development costs but it results in significant cost savings in the long run.
By streamlining appointment scheduling and eliminating wait times telemedicine brings efficiency in the practice workflow and results in cost-savings.
Virtual consultations will become the new norm in the post-pandemic world. As patients and providers both realize the benefits telemedicine has to offer and get over the initial learning curve of technology incorporation, telemedicine is here to stay.
If you are still haven’t started on it and are looking to include telemedicine within your practice workflow, getting in touch with experts in the field can help you get started on the right foot and have you poised for success.
With more than a decade of experience in developing telemedicine applications and a slew of telemedicine success stories in our portfolio, Arkenea understands the intricacies of the process and can help you manoeuvre through the challenges.
Get in touch with our telemedicine consultants for discussing your projects requirements today.