By Natalie Tkachenko
In the 2000s, if you told somebody that you caught a cold, and a family doctor would consult you through video call in a mobile app, this person possibly would think that you definitely need a doctor, however with other expertise. Twenty years later, telemedicine is one of the quickest developing healthcare sectors. According to Mordor Intelligence and Gurufocus, the telemedicine market will be worth more than $66 billion by 2021 and $185.66 billion by 2026 accordingly.
Online consultation became especially popular in 2020 when Coronavirus was spread worldwide. However, even disregarding statistics for the last two years, physician adoption of telehealth grew from 5% to 22% between 2015 and 2018, according to a American Well survey.
What Telemedicine Services Includes Today
Dramatical development of digital technologies such as high-speed wireless internet, high-performance computers and mobile devices, a wide spread of smart devices, implementing Big Data and AI along with the tendency of business digitalization, impact on the healthcare industry.
Modern telemedicine systems can be divided into 3 main categories as telehospital, telehome, and mobile health (mHealth).
- Telehospital services allow patients to receive a remote treatment being in a health facility. Remote physicians or telehospitalists connect them via video conference, getting all necessary health-related data about a patient through the internet as if they were in a hospital room.
- Telehome solutions provide patients with healthcare services at home. Using a PC or other devices, people connect with medical experts. The most widespread use case is monitoring and remote care patients with chronic diseases or the inability to come to a hospital due to distance or other reasons.
- mHealth is the youngest and the most quickly developed type of telemedicine services. Patients gain better interaction with their therapists, receive recommendations, prescriptions and treatment via smartphones. mHealth is a broader term and includes fitness apps, nutrition plans, healthcare and disease social communities, applications for controlling wired devices.
Telemedicine Benefits for Hospitals and Patients
Implementing telemedicine solutions allows healthcare facilities to advance the quality of their services and simultaneously decrease operational expenses. Using software for remote consultation, doctors mitigate travel expenses, also time that they spend driving they can use to help more people.
The use of remote patient monitoring (RPM) solutions become more and more widespread. It allows a doctor to monitor patients recovering after surgery when a hospital presence was already unnecessary. It helps to reduce time patients have to stay in hospitals, thereby saving their money. Another application is monitoring and correcting treatment plans of patients suffering from different chronic diseases and people after a heart attack or stroke.
Today patients can find a required specialist through telemedicine mobile apps and web platforms, in which doctors have profiles, specifying their expertise. The system provides matching needed specialists, scheduling appointments, keeping digital patient cards and prescriptions, and includes billing. Remote healthcare services metaphorically don’t have borders. Living in the USA, you can get a consultation from medical specialists from Israel or Switzerland.
Telemedicine gives opportunities for people living in remote areas to get professional healthcare services. Sometimes roads can take a few hours while a person needs help immediately. Even a simple advice from a qualified expert received in time can save a life.
The Downside of Telemedicine Solutions
One of the cons is the high cost of telemedicine implementation. Healthcare service providers have to spend a lot of money before this system begins to work and generate revenue. Furthermore, a high risk of a personal data breach is also a significant factor stopped from providing remote services.
Healthcare is in the top 3 industries that are mainly targeted by cyber attacks. Significant amounts of protected health Information (PHI) data are stored in healthcare systems, making them the desired objective for fraud. In the USA, all software used in the healthcare industry must satisfy rules and requirements from the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). It’s only one of many acts and guidelines that software has to comply with. It’s the premise behind some software development companies don’t take on creating solutions for the healthcare sector. This fact also affects the development price.
Despite the growth of the telemedicine market and its advantages, not all medics consider remote healthcare as an efficient way to treat people. A lot of experts claim a video connection doesn’t examine a patient fully, increasing risk of the wrong diagnosis, and refuse this activity.
Sum It Up
Development of the telemedicine services is gaining momentum worldwide. Do its pros outweigh the cons? For sure. However, healthcare facilities that decided to implement telemedicine in their workflow have to comprehend that it needs time when this investment starts to generate the cash-flow.
Could it substitute traditional care completely? It’s hardly possible. Soon, it will become a natural and inseparable part of healthcare services. Nowadays, technology still can’t replace a live connection with doctors completely, maybe in the future it will change.
Company bio: NIX is a team 2000+ certified specialists, hailing from all over the globe, and delivering software solutions since 1994. We put our expertise and skills at the service of clients’ businesses to help them gain competitive advantages and industry leadership. Our methodology focused on finding a unique approach to each client, offering custom software solutions based on a committed end-to-end development cycle and cutting-edge technologies. The NIX expertise spans Healthcare, EdTech, Biopharmaceutics, Workforce Management, E-Commerce and other industries, to which we deliver high-quality results under quite reasonable terms. Follow them on social media: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter.
Author bio: Natalie Tkachenko, Healthcare Software Solutions Consultant at NIX United. With more than 3 years of practical experience, Natalie helps CIOs of Medical companies, CTOs and Founders of agile Healthtech startups build technology solutions that make medical practice better and leverage digital transformation to meet patients expectations. Follow her on LinkedIn.