More and more people around the world are demanding proper healthcare for themselves and their loved ones. Having access to the best doctors at their fingertips is important for this demand. Today, modern technologies in telecommunications, mobile technology, and internet technology are able to bring quality medical diagnoses and care to individuals across the globe. The world is moving towards a more connected future that entails quicker, easier and more personalized delivery of all services. Healthcare is no exception to this sea change.
For years, telehealth has been lauded as the next big thing in healthcare. The telehealth industry shows no signs of slowing down. Telehealth services not only benefit the patient but also efficiently manage a doctor’s schedule as well. It would be most appropriate to say that telehealth is the future of healthcare and healing.
1. Global Trends in Telehealth
Telehealth is one of the most important fields in today’s healthcare industry. It plays a key role in the industry’s shift towards value-based care which helps to cut costs, generate extra revenue and enhance patient satisfaction. Telehealth has experienced one of the massive growth and positioning in the last decade and has brought about considerable changes to the healthcare industry. Here are some of the major trends and opportunities that will drive the industry’s growth in the near future:
- New infrastructure, like edge computing and next-generation 5G wireless networks, will help facilitate the streaming and storage of a vast amount of data — including high-resolution imaging like MRI scans
- Smart glasses and smart watches are monitoring patients’ health data and transmit them in real time to health professionals.
- Advanced Robotic surgeries now enable surgeons to operate on patients from afar.
- Among the various services of telehealth, telemonitoring is expected to grow at the significant market share during the forecast period due to the increasing geriatric and disabled populations who are commonly diagnosed with diabetes and cardiovascular complications.
- The integration of augmented and virtual reality, 3-D printing, robotics, and advanced IoT and AI capabilities are the major contributors of enhanced value-based care for consumers demanding more personalized and customized user experience.
We can expect to see a rise in the number of patients getting treatments right from the comfort of their home, or being a part of a medical home which houses many patients with similar symptoms and diseases for better treatment. In the coming future, we can also expect personalized telehealth apps for both the clinician and the patient which would not only be customized to their individual case but also offer the flexibility to specify what sort of information should be displayed.
2. Surprising Growth Statistics
A quick glance at the numbers on the growth of telehealth demonstrates that telehealth will be expected service for health systems in the coming years.
- A new report from The Business Research Company shows that the global market for telemedicine technology, currently worth $31.8 billion, will reach $77.2 billion by 2022.
- It is expected that the global telemedicine market will expand at a compound annual growth rate of 14.3% through 2020, eventually reaching $36.2 billion, according to the analysis made by law firm Foley & Lardner
- Patient interest in telemedicine services is high, with 77% saying they would be more likely to select medical providers that offer it over ones that do not.
- By geography, the Asia Pacific region exhibits the fastest growth and is expected to lead the global market by the end of the decade due to increasing populations in rural & urban areas and augmented government initiatives.
- According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, a shortage of 130,600 physicians will be experienced by 2025 creating a market opportunity for telemedicine providers.
Some of the key factors influencing the market growth include rising prevalence of chronic diseases, favorable government initiatives, telecommunication growth in BRIC countries and growing Medicare reimbursement for telehealth services.
3. How Telehealth is provided
Connected Health Policy (CCHP) classifies telehealth into four types of services:
- Live-video Conferencing: With live-video conferencing, healthcare providers can extend their practice beyond the hospital walls and engage their patient population in their homes, improve access to specialists, reduce unnecessary re-admissions, giving them the ability to identify opportunities for early intervention, manage chronic conditions, and increase patient access.
- Mobile Health: Using a mobile device, it has become very easy to download applications to connect to an online doctor of your choice. Certain forms of telemedicine require you to go to designated centers to consult a physician virtually. With today’s technological advancements and a fast and reliable internet connection, it has become possible to avail telehealth facility from the comfort of your home.
- Remote Patient Monitoring: Remote patient monitoring (RPM) allows healthcare providers to track a patient’s vital signs and other health data from a distance. This makes it easy to watch for warning signs and quickly get involved with patients who are at health-risk or are recovering from a recent surgery. This type of telemedicine is sometimes also called telemonitoring or home telehealth.
- Store-and-forward: Store-and-forward solutions enable healthcare providers to forward and share patient medical data like lab results, images, videos, records with a provider at a different location. These platforms offer a kind of sophisticated, secure, email platform – a way to share private patient data online in a secure way.
4. Impact of Telehealth on Practices and Patients’ Life Experiences
Telehealth has become a perfect answer to all the needs associated with patient engagement. From low-cost to better access, telehealth for patient engagement presents an opportunity to have improved health facilities. Telehealth can meet many different needs for both patients and physicians. Following are some significant impacts of Telehealth on practices and patient life experiences:
Telehealth Benefits for Practices:
- Reaching deprived remote locations
- Increasing the pool of potential patients, leading to more revenue
- Delivering more preventive care
- Offering more affordable care services
- Strengthening patient relationships
- Decreasing the likelihood of no-shows for appointment
- Doctors can consult among themselves and reach out to specialists irrespective of geographical locations
- Enables the doctor to maintain a balance between work and professional life
- Reduces the paperwork and related administrative tasks.
Telehealth Benefits for Patients
- No traveling for an appointment
- Not waiting as long to be seen for an ailment
- Not paying as much, especially compared to emergency rooms or walk-in visits
- Not worrying about the unavailability of local specialists for rare conditions
- Presents the opportunity to get a second or a third recommendation for treatment without wasting more money or too much time.
5. Telehealth Technology Segments
Telehealth is used in many different medical fields, throughout ambulatory and hospital settings. Almost every medical field has some use for consulting a patient or another provider (usually a specialist) remotely. As a result, there are several key niche telehealth specialties.
Here are some of the most popular telehealth solutions specialties:
- Tele-radiology: Teleradiology solutions are developed to expand access to diagnosticians of x-rays. It allows providers at one location to send a patient’s x-rays and records securely to a qualified radiologist at another location, and get a quick consult on the patient’s condition.
- Tele-consultation: The goal of teleconsultation is to omit geographical and functional distance between two or more geographically separated health care providers. Teleconsultation also helps to increase the quality in patient care and structure the examination process within a collaboration activity with other healthcare professionals
- Tele-monitoring: Telemonitoring is defined as the use of information technology to monitor patients at a distance. The most promising applications for telemonitoring is for chronic illnesses such as cardiopulmonary disease, asthma, and heart failure in the home. Telemonitoring allows reduction of chronic disease complications and provides health care services without using hospital beds and reduces patient travel, time off from work, and overall costs.
- Tele-surgery: Telesurgery uses wireless networking and robotic technology to allow surgeons to operate on patients who are distantly located. This technology not only benefits today’s shortage of surgeons, but it also eliminates geographical barriers that prevent timely and high-quality surgical intervention, financial burden, complications, and often risky long-distance travel.
- Telepsychiatry: Telepsychiatry, a subset of telemedicine, can involve providing a range of services including psychiatric evaluations, therapy, patient education, and medication management. Telepsychiatry has several advantages over traditional psychiatry including reduced stigma, reduced time off work, and better access to mental health specialty care that might not otherwise be available.
6. Best Practices (Getting most out of Telemedicine)
Incorporating telehealth can increase productivity and revenues. Here are some tips for getting the most out of telehealth service:
- Ensure that the platform is HIPAA-compliant and user-friendly
- Figure out the best way to get the word out and educate patients on how to get started. Offer collateral and support to patients on how to use the platform. Brochures or online video tutorials are helpful.
- Have a clear understanding of the types of services you wish to deliver and the best and most appropriate telehealth program model for your particular organization.
- Identify which services you will target, which geographical regions you will serve, what form of telehealth modalities you will implement.
- Make sure the location of both patient and practitioner are known (for emergency purposes) and configure the practitioner’s room for privacy.
7. What does this mean for your practice?
The push for telehealth is coming from many different players within the healthcare industry, from employers to healthcare executives to insurance companies. While there will no doubt be some challenges to overcome and time needed to launch truly successful telehealth care programs, it’s clear that telehealth will be all-over in just the next few years.
Telehealth technology is a game changer for the healthcare industry, as it brings healthcare directly into patient’s doorstep. With rapid advances in technology, it’s likely that telehealth will only become easier and more widely accepted in the coming years. The ability to offer your patients more alternatives to help manage their health care will provide the competitive edge necessary in today’s healthcare environment. The current healthcare system without a telehealth strategy or plans to implement a virtual care program will quickly fall behind in the next few years as the demand for telehealth shows no signs of slowing in the coming years. From this, it can be demonstrated that now is the perfect time for doctors to add telehealth services to their practice to be part of this emerging field.
iPatientCare Telehealth software connects you with patients anywhere at anytime. With seamless integration to the iPatientCare EHR and practice management software, you can implement an efficient and effective telehealth solution. It is simple, secure and streamlined. Using the latest video conferencing and medical device technology, iPatientCare has established full-scale telehealth software for hospitals, clinics, providers, and patients. The robust HD video-conferencing software facilitates virtual doctor’s appointments and physician-to-physician consultations via desktops, mobile devices, and web browser apps, designed to be ancillary service to doctors.
For providers interested in bringing telehealth services to their organization or to know more about iPatientCare Telehealth software Schedule a Demo with us.