Telemedicine is giving caregivers the ability to greatly improve the efficiency and affordability of healthcare. According to the American Telemedicine Association, “telemedicine is the natural evolution of healthcare in the digital world.” Patients, doctors and caregivers today have begun to accept telemedicine as a genuinely beneficial way of delivering care.
When Alexander Graham Bell patented the telephone in 1876, new ways of using the telephone for patients to communicate with their doctors began appearing in medical literature. It took quite some time for the idea of “telemedicine” to truly be born. In the 1950’s, radiologic images were successfully communicated by phone between West Chester and Philadelphia, PA. Momentum continued in the 1960’s and 70’s, with telemedicine programs being developed with the support of federal agencies like NASA, The Department of Defense and U.S. Public Health Service.
Video chatting can now be found everywhere with the recent technological advances of internet speeds, the vast availability of smartphones and standardized phone operating systems. Arrival of additional technology standards such as EHR, HIPPA and wearable devices that transfer information to smartphones has just made it all that more appealing for customers to jump on the telehealth bandwagon. The ultimate goal, we can all agree, is to bring continuous care to consumers long before they end up in an ER or clinic.
“Telehealth is not a specific service, but a collection of means to enhance care and education delivery,” says the Center for Connected Health Policy. CCHP further classifies telehealth into four types of services, live-video conferencing, mobile health, remote patient monitoring, and store-and-forward. Most telehealth platforms provide one or more of these services, to a segmented patient or consumer population.
Below we discuss 5 ways that telemedicine is revolutionizing healthcare in 2019:
1. Remote Monitoring of Elderly Patient Populations
Between 2000 and 2050, the number of people aged 60 years or older is expected to increase from 605 million to 2 billion. This rapidly increasing elderly patient population has become one of the main groups who derive advantages from telehealth. Many companies have focused their energies on building doctor video chat platforms targeted at the elderly. With the addition of medication adherence services (used to smartly manage and track medication usage for elderly and geriatric patients, as well as their caregivers) it’s clear that remote monitoring of this group is not a trend we will soon see change.
“Telepsychiatry, a subset of telemedicine, can involve providing a range of services including psychiatric evaluations, therapy patient education and medication management,” says the American Psychiatry Association. A few notable advantages Telepsychiatry has over traditional psychiatry are: Reduced stigma, reduced time away from work, and better access to mental health specialties. In 2018 we saw a number of companies delivering telepsychiatry platforms across the US, and we only see this increasing in 2019.
3. Patients Seeking a Second Opinion
Consumers are often searching for a quick and cheap second opinion after being diagnosed with a medical condition. This is where Telemedicine has really stepped up and is providing solutions for patients. Companies and traditional healthcare service providers are providing quick and efficient second options using telehealth solutions.
4. Care for Patient in Rural Locations
One of the initial use cases of telemedicine was to provide health care in remote and rural locations. More than 65 million Americans are already more than 60 minutes away from the closest acute-care hospital. Traditional healthcare providers are partnering with telehealth companies to provide continuous healthcare delivery to patients located in rural areas.
5. Redefining health insurance
Traditional health insurance providers are partnering with telemedicine companies to address a main concern of patients – continuous care. Health insurance providers are redefining health-insurance by building the whole customer experience around its own telehealth services.
With telemedicine continuing to replace traditional healthcare, naturally there is the inheritance of its challenges. Increased cost of care due to multiple vendors, complex care pathways, and government policies. The question that remains is – will telehealth be able to redefine the quality, equity and affordability of healthcare throughout the world? We believe the answer is yes, and in 2019 we are going to see the trail be blazed.