The Optimistic Future Of Telemedicine
The healthcare profession has evolved rapidly to cope with the social distancing measures to aid flatten the curve of COVID-19. Telehealth became a lifeline for hospitals, clinics, and doctors seeking a way to provide the same quality of care while preventing the transmission of the coronavirus during the peak of the epidemic. The use of technology has developed, and it will continue to influence the future of telehealth services.
Simply put, telehealth is the use of communication technology to give healthcare services to patients without requiring them to be physically present, such as video chat via apps or webcams, phones, or video conference software. Before the pandemic, most telehealth programs were ad hoc and had several constraints. They were created to provide patients in rural and impoverished regions with access to professionals when local resources were scarce.
With the ever-changing industry, there are always some new trends being introduced for the upskilling of humans. Below are some of the key trends that are driving the future of Telehealth across the globe.
1. Increased Patient Utilization
As of July 2021, telehealth use has stabilized at 38 times pre-pandemic levels. There was evidence to support the increased usage of telehealth even before the outbreak. According to a McKinsey survey, 76 percent of patients said they would consider telehealth in the future. Furthermore, more than half of respondents in a study published in the Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare said they would utilize telehealth to renew medications, prepare for an upcoming appointment, verify test results, or acquire education. In the future, we may expect to see healthcare providers and insurance companies work together to enhance telehealth's availability and accessibility.
2. Enhanced Chronic Care Management
A chronic illness, such as kidney disease, heart disease, cancer, lung disease, Alzheimer's, diabetes, or stroke-related side effects, affects around one-third of the world's population. In the majority of cases, these individuals' lifestyle choices and preventative care measures can help prevent and treat these conditions. Many of these patients, on the other hand, do not finish their treatment, do not take or renew their repeat prescriptions, and do not attend their planned follow-up appointments to help them manage their symptoms.
Noncompliance with a care plan costs the industry billions of dollars each year. Telehealth can increase patient involvement and adherence while also cutting treatment costs. Telehealth is a convenient way for patients to keep in touch with their doctors regularly. Long waits in waiting rooms and the expense of frequent doctor visits are no longer essential. Furthermore, more frequent encounters between patients and doctors may allow for the early discovery of small problems, minimizing the probability of further problems or repercussions.
3. Great focus on Mental Health
Noncompliance with a treatment plan costs the healthcare industry billions of dollars every year. Telehealth can enhance patient compliance and involvement while cutting treatment costs. People can communicate with their doctors regularly and in a convenient manner through telehealth. Regular doctor visits and huge lineups at physicians' offices are no longer essential. Furthermore, more frequent encounters between patients and doctors may allow for the early discovery of small problems, minimizing the likelihood of complications or negative effects.
4. Improved User Experience
Noncompliance with treatment regimens costs the healthcare sector billions of dollars every year. Telehealth offers the ability to improve patient engagement and compliance while cutting treatment costs. Telehealth allows people to contact their doctors regularly in a convenient manner. Long lines at the doctor's office and exorbitant fees for basic doctor appointments are no longer essential. Furthermore, more frequent encounters between patients and clinicians may enable early diagnosis of small abnormalities, reducing the chance of complications or unfavorable outcomes.
5. Integrated Data Sharing
It is nothing new that data-sharing platforms are becoming quicker and more comfortable to use, and telehealth is following suit. Many telehealth applications are starting to integrate with fitness apps, for example, to collect data such as step count and heart rate straight from a user's smartphone. This will provide healthcare practitioners with a more comprehensive image of a person's lifestyle, which, when combined with electronic health data, will assist to produce a more accurate picture of their present health.
6. Wearable Technology
As previously said, telehealth is becoming increasingly important for individuals with chronic conditions, and the concept of integrated data exchange leads to the next big thing in the future: wearable technology. Since 1970, when HP debuted its calculator wristwatch, wearable technology has been around. The first fitness tracker was introduced in 2009. The Apple Watch, which was released in 2015, aided in the development and spread of smartwatches and fitness trackers. This has made it possible for the healthcare business to begin remote patient monitoring quickly and easily. These devices enable physicians to collect real-time data on a range of health factors, including activity levels, heart rates, blood pressure, sleep cycles, and glucose levels.
7. Convenient Pediatric Care
Pre-pandemic pediatric telemedicine was already gaining traction, but in the next few years, it is likely to gain much greater traction. This is because future generations of parents are more at ease with virtual technology than previous generations were. In addition, the number of telehealth services geared at young people is increasing, such as the development of virtual physiotherapy that resembles video games. Overall, telehealth usage for pediatric care is expected to skyrocket in the next few years.
8. Investments in Technology
Finally, telemedicine will not be feasible without the necessary technological infrastructure, necessitating additional costs. The use of digital health technology is continually rising, from COVID-19 Tracing applications to wellness monitors to telemedicine and virtual health apps – all of which can be accessible from the comfort of one's own home. Investing in knowledge and technology will result in more successful telehealth programs and applications. Telehealth is a transition toward a more effective, patient-centered approach to offering focused and responsive levels of treatment where people want it, while also relieving pressure on healthcare staff.
9. Remote Monitoring
Remote patient monitoring (RPM) is a method of healthcare delivery that uses technological improvements to collect patient data outside of traditional healthcare facilities, which benefits patients, physicians, caregivers, and the healthcare system as a whole. There are numerous important advantages to consider, including greater virtual care access, more patient-provider communication options, and increased patient participation in self-management, as well as a reduction in COVID-19 spread and overall treatment costs.
Both physicians and patients gain from remote patient monitoring because it allows for greater contact, which strengthens the patient-provider connection and increases patient satisfaction and loyalty. It gives patients the peace of mind that their doctor is keeping an eye on them frequently.
These are the key trends that have evolved in recent times, after the widespread acceptance of telehealth services. Telehealth provides so many benefits to the healthcare industry that, even if the pandemic is nearing an end, the usage of this ground-breaking technology will continue for a long time.
Telehealth has shown to be not only more convenient for patients, but also to promote public health, increase access to treatment, alleviate demand on healthcare workers, and aid in the reduction of financial burdens.
Telehealth has been the healthcare industry's saving grace during the pandemic, and it's clear that it's here to stay as we move forward.