Telehealth Closing the Gap in Healthcare
The global telehealth market is witnessing an unprecedented period of growth thanks to the inclusion of smartphones and AI. The growth is expected to sustain a long time due to its reach, time-saving approach, and cost-effective measures. Digitalization would bolster the entire process. How is telehealth closing the gap and improving healthcare? Studies have shown that telehealth improves health outcomes. Patients that are diagnosed and treated earlier often have improved outcomes and less costly treatments.
Healthcare Technology Advancements
The recent transformation in the healthcare sector can owe its success to various technological advancements. The transformation remains somewhat incomplete as it has not spread to the farthest corners as it was supposed to be. This is due to several drawbacks like inaccessibility on a scale of resource and difficult terrain, lack of funding, and others. However, substantial growth in a completely different sector is providing hope to people regarding better engagement with physicians and enhanced scope for effective treatment. This is due to the paradigmatic shift in the communication sector that is enjoying the benefits of the fast inclusion of digitalization. Telehealth is more than a healthcare trend. A blend of these two worlds, healthcare and communication technology, this innovation marks the beginning of a new time where increased engagement of physicians and patients would define the market. What makes it even more interesting is its ability to save time and use the much-needed golden hour in crucial moments to save patients.
What is Telehealth?
Telehealth is garnering colossal prominence in the healthcare industry as patients, providers, payers, employers, and legislators have begun to acknowledge its significant capabilities and cost-effective solutions. The uptake of telehealth is continuously rising as more users consider it as a viable alternative to the traditional, in-person visits.
The patients’ journey is unlikely to change these services need to integrate seamlessly into a familiar payer or provider framework in terms of access, reimbursement, etc. to drive the utilization. Patients strive to balance the cost and quality of care actively, and as the acceptance of telehealth increases among patients, the market would witness high growth in terms of value.
Telehealth, also known as telemedicine is the provision of medical help in remote locations through the use of telecommunication technologies such as video conferencing. Although a relatively new concept, telehealth solutions garnered many accolades in recent years since it bridges the gap between patients and healthcare professionals.
Improvement of telecom infrastructure and robust mobile engagement platform, especially in developing countries combined with the availability of funds for the deployment of telehealth solutions are leading growth within the global telehealth market. In addition, shortage in a number of healthcare professionals willing to serve in remote locations has necessitated the deployment of telehealth solutions to cater to the needs of patients in remote areas.
Telehealth relies on the effective use of communication to facilitate deliverance of health and health-related services like medical care, patient education, health information, self-care opportunity, and others. All these processes get a thumbs up from rapidly increasing digitalization. The process has this unique advantage of using live video streaming, remote patient monitoring (RPM), mobile health apps (mHealth), and electronic transmission. The growth of this segment getting fanned by various initiatives to engage both patients and physicians under one umbrella.
The number of smartphone users is getting higher due to the constant price-wars among various smartphone manufacturers. This is bringing in a diverse range of customers who and from distant corners who can definitely benefit from the global telehealth market. The recent announcement, made by American Well, has its focus on this factor using which they are planning to build an integrated model where hospitals and health systems would come in a line with physicians. The organization is planning to participate with Epic to facilitate the process.
What has Fueled the Growth?
High-speed broadband, better smartphone qualities, high standard of imaging, growing inclusion of artificial intelligence (AI), and others have a decent chance of promoting the telehealth market ahead. These features have cleared a path to make the process more patient-centric, based on a model that understands the urgency. At the same time, the process is quite time-saving. Patients, instead of visiting a doctor and waiting in a queue, can consult their doctor over the phone or via their computer. If it is urgent, then a call can initiate instant conversation and provide better assistance. Such a method finds huge traction in dealing with inmates and treating defense personnel on the battlefield. In several cases, it is cost-saving as well. Transferring inmates for checkups could incur a high cost, which could be avoided.
On the other hand, keeping a tab on a patient’s performance can be an effective measure to understand how far medications have worked or whether a change in the chart would be sufficient to influence the better rate of cure. The process is getting ample traction from various manufacturers as they have started developing smart wearables that would keep physicians in the loop round-the-clock. AliveCor’s KardiaBand can process electrocardiograms in less than 30 seconds for Apple Watch wearers and then keep the doctor posted about recent developments.
What Does Telehealth Contribute to Healthcare?
The biggest challenge, the healthcare industry is facing now, is the dearth of physicians. Even in the United States where the structure of the healthcare industry is robust, this lack of healthcare providers is worldwide. The same is the case with Europe and its well-developed regions. The crisis gets magnified in the Asia Pacific region owing to its massive population and less physical accessibility. Telehealth can be an alternate solution just to meet the necessary. Better digitalization could also make this a method using which doctors can be trained.
Telehealth has gone past its nascent stage a few years back, especially, in developed regions, where structures are well-developed. But in developing regions, the promise is quite high. Market Research Future (MRFR) claims that this global telehealth market could surpass a valuation of USD 16,173.8 Million by 2024 with a CAGR of 22.74% over the review period of 2016 to 2024. Latest integration, like Intermountain Center’s attempt to tap AI to improve kidney care, can be a definite signal of how the market is expected to shape up in the coming years.
- In February 2019, Teladoc Health, leading telehealth provider, announced the expansion of its virtual care capabilities which would facilitate the delivery of a wider range of virtual care services. The company has extended its services to specialty and complex care.
- In February 2019, Blum Telehealth, a leading provider of telehealth services, and Medxoom, a growing digital health identity, payments and engagement platform, announced partnership to modernize patient engagement and payments.
- March 2019- Berkley County School District is all set to roll out telehealth that is school-based shortly. By joining hands with the school district and MUSC, their goal is in eliminating barriers and offering care to students who lack transportation for visiting the physician’s office.
- In April 2019, the Medical University of South Carolina received a federal grant of USD 3.6 million to create a nationwide database of pediatric telehealth research. Also in April 2019, the Arizona government passed a law extending telehealth insurance to all medical specialties.