Due to recent technological advancements, the world is not what it used to be. In fact, it cannot be seen the way it was before, especially considering how technology has led to the growth of industries by leaps and bounds. At the same time, it has also led to the development of concepts like telemedicine which are transforming healthcare. To learn more about telemedicine, and trends you need to look out for this year, read on.
What is Telemedicine?
Simply put, telemedicine is a method through which medical care can be provided to patients from around the globe via information technology and telecommunication.
Not too long ago, it was only deemed necessary for cases where patients were located in remote areas. Usually, such patients were devoid of healthcare facilities or simply lacked medical professionals to refer to when they needed them the most. But in this day and age, things have changed considerably, so much so, telemedicine now serves as an effective and convenient tool for medical care.
Telemedicine is no longer limited to serving patients in remote areas, but instead improves access to medical care for everyone. Since patients no longer want to waste time waiting for treatments they desperately need, telemedicine does have a promising future.
Benefits of Telemedicine
- For Patients
- Zero travel expenses
- No time wasted waiting for appointments
- Little to no interference with eldercare or childcare responsibilities
- Considerably lower costs offer more value for money to patients
- Easy access to consultations with specialists
- For Providers
- Increase in revenue
- Drop in cancellations and missed appointments
- Efficiency leads to an increase in the number of patients treated in the long run
- Improved health outcomes with better patient follow-up
Trends Prominent in Telemedicine through 2017-2018
According to a report by Mordor Intelligence, the global telemedicine market is predicted to be worth a staggering $66 billion by 2021. But wait, there’s more where that came from. Here are some prominent trends prevalent in telemedicine in 2017-2018.
- Since patient information is collected automatically during a telemedicine session, said data can be put to good use. As is evident with how self-monitoring had been huge in 2017, it will only continue to grow throughout 2018.
There are numerous devices out there that track patients’ health, and send the results to doctors for further evaluation. This invaluable tool allows healthcare professionals to monitor their patients thoroughly. At the same time, Big Data analytics analyze data from a pool of patients, in an effort to further the cause of telemedicine by improving treatments. It is safe to say, patient data collection can identify risks for illnesses while assisting physicians with recommending the best possible treatments out there.
- It is estimated that no less than 65% of interactions with healthcare providers will take place with mobile devices by the end of 2018. According to a report by research2guidance, 80% of doctors already have telehealth platforms into their practice and rely on smartphones and apps for their practices. Additionally, insurance companies and hospitals are already storing data in the cloud, giving patients access to test results online whenever they want. What this does is eradicate paper usage and save time.
- With data being collected from patients for telemedicine services, security is essential. For this reason, different techniques exist to enhance data security for telemedicine, including:
- Encrypting data on portable devices
- Carrying out vulnerability assessments and penetrative testing of IT systems
- Carrying out HIPPA security checks at least once a year to reduce factors associated with security risks
- In the years to come, more personalized telemedicine apps are to be expected, for both, clinicians and patients. These apps will be flexible enough to specify what information is sent between doctor and patient. If things remain as they are, it will also lead to the rise of mobile Health, also referred to as mHealth.
- Since telemedicine is growing exponentially, many organizations are investing in it, heavily. Large and small telemedicine operators are merging for financial stability to newer companies while proving a platform for dispensing telemedicine care without any hassles whatsoever. But that is not all, larger telemedicine providers are already collaborating with medical institutions from around the globe to spread their expertise for greater revenue and a larger audience to cater to. Telemedicine investment opportunities will increase further if China and India accept Western telemedicine practices.
It goes without saying telemedicine practices will save time and offer cost-effective treatments for patients. An increase in chronic diseases and an aging population has caused telemedicine to grow, that too for good reason. Keeping this in mind, expect to see telemedicine becoming more prominent as a part of the healthcare industry not only in 2018 but for years to come.