Telemedicine has finally gone mainstream in the wake of the pandemic. Not only are hospitals and healthcare providers realising the importance of incorporating virtual care delivery in their offering, the patient preferences are also seeing a paradigm shift. As the patient sentiment towards the use of telemedicine remains positive, 83 percent patients have reportedly said they will continue to avail telemedicine services even after the pandemic subsides.
As the world witnessed a huge upsurge in telehealth adoption and use of mHealth apps for COVID-19 tracking and treatment through remote patient monitoring, the technology continues to open new avenues of innovation. Here are the top telemedicine trends to watch out for in 2020 and beyond.
What are the current and future trends regarding telemedicine?
1. Increase in use of telemedicine for chronic care
Chronic diseases are the leading driver of healthcare costs in the United States with an estimated burden of $4 trillion per year. With an increase in the world’s aging population, the prevalence of chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, etc are going to put a toll on the existing healthcare delivery systems. In addition to providing a secure platform for patients suffering from chronic health conditions to consult with their healthcare providers, telemedicine solutions can also help patients share health indicators with their physicians.
With telemedicine software solutions aimed at primarily managing chronic health conditions being developed, we are likely to see an increase in use of telemedicine for chronic care. Such software can equip patients to manage their health better in at-home setups, send out reminders for ensuring medication adherence and improve the overall health outcomes for patients suffering from chronic health conditions.
2. Prevalence of telemedicine for mental health
Telemedicine for mental health in forms of telepsychiatry, virtual therapy sessions and online consultations with therapists has proven to be successful at removing the disparities that exist in access to mental health. Mental health disorders and suicides have been rising at an alarming rate within the US in the past decade. Suicides are now the 10th most common cause of death in the United States.
The COVID-19 pandemic has set the foundation for the conversation around the importance of having conversations about mental health issues. The increasing trend of using technology to gain access to mental health services shows promising advantages, thus ensuring that the trend of telemedicine for mental health will continue to grow in the future as well.
3. Rise in clinically valuable direct to consumer telemedicine models
Direct to consumer (DTC) telehealth focuses on short term, transactional care that does not require prior appointments or prior in-person visits for availing healthcare services. With industry leaders such as Amazon and CVS branching into the segment of delivery of medications and medical devices, we are currently witnessing a rise in the clinically valuable DTC models of telemedicine and that is a telemedicine trend that is likely to continue in the future as well.
4. Remote patient monitoring
Remote patient monitoring with the help of connected medical devices can obliviate the blind spot that doctors face when treating patients from their homes. RPM has proven increasingly effective in reducing the instances where patients require hospitalization.
Internet of medical things (IoMT), healthcare wearables and remote patient monitoring are telemedicine trends that are being increasingly adopted as we move towards making data driven delivery of healthcare possible. From everyday healthcare wearable devices that collect and securely transmit data about patient’s vitals to the physicians to smart beds, portable ECG and EKG monitors, the possible applications of remote patient monitoring are limitless.
5. Teleparamedicine and teletriage
Hospitals are now using telemedicine to connect the paramedics who are on the ground with specialists within the hospitals for expert assistance when the need arises. The emergency responders remain the first line of treatment that patients receive in case of medical events such as stroke or heart attack.
Immediate intervention under direct supervision of a cardiologist or neurologist can greatly improve the impact the acute medical event would have and the kind of recovery the patient experiences. Medical professionals can also carry out triage to determine the severity of the condition and the kind of treatment protocol that needs to be followed subsequently. Teleparamedicine and teletriage are among the upcoming trends regarding telemedicine that will continue to find more applications in the coming years.
6. Increased coverage for telemedicine
As the acceptance of telemedicine increases, insurance providers and government administered healthcare programs such as medicare and medicaid are stepping up to increase telemedicine coverage as well. Both telemedicine as well as remote patient monitoring services are being increasingly covered under insurance.
Telemedicine coverage increasing and companies offering plans that include telemedicine services is a trend that will continue to grow stronger as telehealth adoption keeps increasing. With users reportedly ranking virtual consultations to be as effective as in-person visits, we are bound to see more and more players offering telemedicine in their offering in the future.
7. Artificial Intelligence
The combination of Artificial intelligence in remote delivery of healthcare is a potent combo indeed. AI has the potential to supercharge healthcare delivery by analyzing large troves of healthcare data and using it to streamline virtual healthcare. It can also empower the healthcare providers to take data-driven treatment decisions based on analytics through machine learning algorithms.
AI powered chatbots are another telemedicine trend that is gradually catching up. By using intelligent chatbots when developing a telemedicine app as a first level of interaction, healthcare providers can optimize resource utilization. The routine cases can be managed effectively while those requiring immediate care can be prioritized, improving the overall health outcomes in the long run.
Telemedicine technology trends that we are currently witnessing make a strong case for the use of remote care technology to streamline healthcare delivery in the future as well. The demand for developing quality telemedicine solutions that not only deliver an exemplary user experience but also prioritise the safety of patient data and compliance to regulatory norms is now skyrocketing.
If you are in the process of developing a telemedicine solution for your practice, teaming with a team of developers who specialise in the healthcare niche can accelerate your success. With more than a decade of experience in the field of healthcare software development and a number of successful telemedicine projects in our portfolio, Arkenea is a trusted partner in the industry.
Get in touch with our healthcare software consultants to discuss your telemedicine project today.