As a cofounder at Innowise Group with 20-year experience in software engineering, Pavel loves helping businesses grow through technology.
Since the start of the pandemic in 2020, we have witnessed a significant increase in the use of telemedicine technology and its rapid evolution due to technological advancements and pandemic realities. Telemedicine aims to connect the patient with the doctor regardless of distance, which has become a major advantage during lingering quarantines. This is achieved thanks to the adoption of telecommunication technologies and the widespread use of smartphones. Will telemedicine remain important beyond the pandemic, or is it still a temporary trend?
The stats speak for themselves. According to Statista, the global telemedicine market in 2019 was valued at about $50 billion. The same study estimates that within the next decade, the market will reach nearly $460 billion in value.
Telehealth Technology: How It Works
Telemedicine works using advanced technologies and devices to provide remote care by implementing remote clinical services. In a nutshell, healthcare providers leverage software to exchange sensitive medical information, conduct e-visits, make diagnoses, provide treatment, monitor vitals, prescribe medications or even prevent diseases. However, it is not considered a medical specialty, as it is used in different branches of medicine: primary care, neurology, pediatrics, acute care, physical therapy, etc.
Telemedicine services are a breakthrough for health services, especially as many people live in areas where there are few specialized doctors or necessary medical devices. With telehealth, these people can receive the care and treatment they need while, at the same time, contributing to the standardization of digital healthcare. Telemedicine has three main types that can be identified and differentiated.
Telemedicine reduces the need for face-to-face medical appointments when the store-and-forward type of telehealth has been implemented. This kind of telemedicine means sending all patient information and medical history to the doctor without real-time interactions.
There is a possibility of a wrong diagnosis since the store-and-forward type relies on clinical records and imaging reports. However, when store-and-forward telemedicine is applied correctly, it can save time for both the patient and the physician.
Real-Time E-Visits (Synchronous)
Real-time interactive services are the best option when the patient needs an immediate e-visit. As a telecom technology intermediary, physicians and patients mostly use mobile telehealth apps. The process is similar to traditional face-to-face visits except that medical care takes place through a videoconferencing application integrated with internal systems of care providers.
Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM)
This type of telemedicine is also known as self-monitoring, although healthcare professionals are directly involved in remote monitoring control and management. RPM involves the use of telemedicine medical equipment, wireless medical devices, wearable sensors, etc. They are integrated with care providers’ software ecosystems so that patients, doctors and nurses can monitor vitals and patient health status remotely.
RPM is widely used in chronic disease management and can significantly help care providers serve people with diabetes, cancer, heart disease, asthma, etc. Although there is a risk of inaccurate testing, this is not a factor of concern for the medical community; current technologies can allow for the effective tracking of vitals, and doctors have to always supervise their patients at all stages, according to medical standards.
Benefits Of Telemedicine
Better Access To Medical Care
Telehealth makes medical care more accessible to those who cannot visit doctors or have their treatment done in person. Telehealth platforms can allow for convenient, stress-free consultations with physicians over the internet. Some telehealth providers may also offer online health coaching services that can help patients lose weight or manage their anxiety.
High-Quality Medical Care
Telehealth can allow patients to receive better quality care than they would if they were present in person. This can include receiving timely treatment, being treated with the latest technology and having a doctor you trust to talk to you directly instead of through an intermediary.
Telehealth has been shown to provide a better quality of care than traditional methods such as clinic visits and doctor’s visits. JAMA Network researchers compared the outcomes of telehealth patients with those who received care through traditional means, such as clinic visits and doctor’s visits. Patients treated through telehealth had better physical and mental outcomes than those treated traditionally. Furthermore, the use of telehealth allows for more convenient access to qualified providers, which can improve patient care.
Сost-effectiveness is always an important consideration when making medical decisions. Telehealth can save patients both time and money by eliminating the need to travel to a hospital or clinic. This can be particularly beneficial for those who have expensive health conditions or require multiple appointments.
In one telemedicine study, the costs associated with providing care through telemedicine were found to be less expensive than conventional methods of care. Another study found that telemedicine can be an effective method for treating serious mental illnesses in remote areas.
Telemedicine can also be cost-effective for certain types of medical procedures. A study conducted by the University of Montreal found that using telemedicine for routine care can save, on average, by up to 15% compared to traditional home care.
Increased Patient Satisfaction
Telemedicine is popular among patients due to less stress, no waiting time in line, no travel time and no additional expense. A Software Advice study found that 70% of patients began using telemedicine during the pandemic, and over 60% of respondents said they preferred a telemedicine appointment when experiencing Covid-19-related symptoms. Moreover, telemedicine continues to be valuable to 62% of patients who prefer to consult with doctors remotely when possible. Telemedicine also increases the engagement of patients in the treatment process, allowing them to be more aware of their health conditions.
Telemedicine: Conclusions And Forecasts
The benefits of telemedicine, industry insights and patient feedback suggest that telehealth is not just a pandemic trend but the future of healthcare, and it’s much more than a viable alternative. Technological progress, the massive use of smartphones (about 85% of patients), and innovations in software development can allow us to assert that telemedicine will be an integral part of care provider services and all modern healthcare systems.