Telehealth: The Future is Today
By Jeffrey H. Sopp, CEO, PRIVIT
Telehealth can be as simple as two healthcare professionals discussing a case, to a high tech robotic surgery happening between two facilities. Regardless, telehealth leverages technology to provide health-related services and information remotely. Telehealth is rapidly becoming more common practice throughout hospitals, clinics, in-home healthcare, private practices, and other specialty health practices. In addition, telehealth allows patients to be monitored between doctor visits thus improving patient care.
The continuous advancements in telecommunications and medical technology has propelled the medical industry. As wearable self-monitoring and digital medical scanning devices become more common, physicians are able to better monitor patients remotely. However, with the ongoing developments in telehealth, the industry is still just scratching the surface when it comes to market size.
"As telehealth continues to advance, people will begin to develop preferences for how they want to be treated"
Remote patient monitoring options offer the flexibility of providing healthcare services at the convenience of the patient instead of physician schedules. However, as technology advances, health care providers at all levels must ensure the patient experience and accuracy are maintained. Today’s smartphones are powerful multipurpose devices that use Bluetooth for connecting with health care providers.
People want to be in more control of their health. This is evident by the amount of health information being researched online prior to going to seeing a physician. As the population ages and lifestyles change, more people are living with chronic conditions, and for longer. Therefore, telehealth holds a great potential for the population aged 60 years and above. According to Berg Insight, in 2015, 4.9 million patients were monitored remotely and this number is estimated to reach 36.1 million patients by 2020. In addition, with over 80 different sleeping disorders, sleep monitoring via remote patient monitoring grew 170 percent in 2015.
Many under developed countries with insufficient healthcare access are turning to telehealth to confront disease. For example, health providers in Brazil are leveraging telehealth to help address birth defects in infants that could be a result of the Zika virus. The physicians assisting in these efforts are working to meet these challenges head on for the people who live far from the specialists who can help them.
However, in a new market research report, “Global Telemedicine Market - Growth, Trends & Forecasts (2015-2020)”, published by Mordor Intelligence, lack of physician support, poor cases of implementation, high technology costs, and legal and reimbursement concerns are hindering the growth of the market.
People naturally have different experiences with various healthcare providers and services. As telehealth continues to advance, people will begin to develop preferences for how they want to be treated. Over the next five years, the fastest segments for telehealth are predicted to be in the areas of glucose monitoring, airflow monitoring, and pharmaceuticals. Telehealth will become more of a common practice and it will keep improving as technology advances.