Telemedicine has played a pivotal role during the pandemic because it favors social distancing.
On the other hand, healthcare providers are at the highest risk in this pandemic time as they are supposed to treat and deal with patients so closely can lead to higher transmission of the covid-19 virus.
In such a scenario, telemedicine has come to their rescue in order to give safe and better service to their patients. This technological innovation is changing the healthcare industry at a fast pace.
Keep reading further to know everything about telemedicine and what role has telemedicine played during the pandemic?
What is telemedicine and how does it work?
Telemedicine is the product of ITC( information communication technology) that allows doctors to deliver healthcare services like diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease and injuries and other health-related services through digital devices to their patients.
The main purpose of telemedicine is to advance the health of individuals and also to spread knowledge to healthcare workers.
You can use telemedicine in two different ways.
- Patient portal
In this online patient portal,
The user has to customize their username and password and can set appointments and ask for a prescription refill through emails. Moreover, this portal allows doctors to share lab reports and images and explain the same to the patients.
Other key portal capabilities are:
- Easy to access health information,
- Sending messages to healthcare
- Provider team
- Viewing bills, updating medical history.
- Virtual appointments
Doctors will allow you to set your appointment through video calling, also you can connect with your mental and behavioral health professionals through this portal.
Role of Telemedicine during the pandemic, with an example
A nationwide lockdown, strict government guidelines, and fear of covid-19 have made the healthcare industry into a dilemma, every doctor and healthcare workers were clueless about how to operate in such a scenario. The main concern of healthcare professionals is how they can reach their patients?
Amid this, telemedicine is emerging as a super solution for doctors as it allows them to connect with patients without physical contact and provide precautions, prevention, and treatment. People who need routine diagnostic and check-ups like diabetic patients have taken good advantage of telemedicine during the pandemic.
Besides this, teleconsultation has now become very popular in rural areas in India, Esanjivani, A telemedicine service has been successfully monitoring 90,000 patients a day across the country since its launch in April 2020. It’s also a great platform for doctors to reach out to their peers through the telemedicine portal.
Let’s take an example of a telemedicine user
A 50-year-old Shane, a resident of Pennsylvania, got a severe headache in the evening as he was a migraine patient. Due to Covid restriction, he couldn’t consult a doctor physically hence he used a telemedicine application where he managed to talk with a neurologist at Johns Hopkins Medicine and received quick treatment.
How has telemedicine become a hot favorite in the healthcare industry?
During the pandemic, people have faced many other health issues mainly related to mental health but because of covid-19’s strict guidelines and restrictions, consulting a doctor is difficult. Therefore, telemedicine is the only medium that patients can use to get necessary treatment for the health professional. Patients who are suffering from mental health issues have used the telemedicine service on a large scale as it doesn’t require a much physical check-up.
Let’s see the reasons for telemedicine’s popularity
- Remote access
As per the survey of Harvard medical school, a patient spends an average of 128 minutes if they consult a doctor in person, it includes travel, waiting, and consultation time in which patients spend hardly 13 to 15 minutes with the doctor. Also, it’s difficult for elders and working professionals to travel as they need to take a day off to consult a doctor and some elders are not capable of going themselves to the clinic.
Telemedicine solves such problems of patients and gives remote access, the patient can book their appointment and consult the doctor virtually and get the necessary and quick treatment.
- Give you an opportunity to approach an ‘n’ number of doctors across the country
If we talk about the US healthcare industry, there is 1 doctor for 2300 patients, such demands result in a long queue and waiting. Sometimes, patients can’t even meet the doctor if the doctor’s working hours have been completed.
Telemedicine facilitates service to rural people to make virtual appointments and gives an opportunity to consult a doctor from a great distance. People from various demographics can take advantage of telemedicine is considered as a prime benefit of it.
Will the patient continue using Telemedicine after the pandemic ends?
Due to privacy and reimbursement, technology in healthcare was a debatable issue, but after covid-19, telemedicine received a huge response from people and healthcare providers. Considering the response, most of the governments have lifted the restrictions that were imposed on telemedicine and allowed it to provide service to the home-staying patients and elders.
In addition to this, the US government gives liberty to medicare for a virtual visit, and on the other side, the Indian government has released guidelines permitting doctors to use telemedicine.
Research conducted by healthcare growth partners(HGP) says that telemedicine is going stronger and will receive enormous investment in the near future. However, the success of telemedicine depends on the technology assurance about patient data privacy, and the protection of doctor’s rights.
Lack of awareness can be the second reason for whether people continue using telemedicine or not? The global data show that the government is spreading awareness rapidly about telemedicine and giving a new direction to the healthcare system.
What challenges telemedicine is facing?
- Technology and privacy standards
The US government has reported the doctor for using video conferencing that doesn’t meet HIPAA privacy standards therefore doctor moves to skype, face-time, and other user-friendly video calling platforms.
- Easier to use features
Now, since hospitals are returning to HIPPA compliant tools, patients urge to make the tool user-friendly as digital literacy is also a concern in technology usage. Since not many patients are smart when it comes to digital platforms, that’s why institutions are working hard to educate patients about telehealth so that they can use the service efficiently.
Telemedicine: business and revenue
According to Zione market research, “Telemedicine has generated $23.6 billion in 2018 and is anticipated to earn $62.6 by 2025.” As health needs are increasing with each passing day, telemedicine is all set to provide service to patients in a convenient way and at an affordable rate. Another reason why people use telehealth? As they have good smartphones with high-speed internet data, accessibility is easy and convenient for them to receive healthcare services.
The dominance of telemedicine in North America by 2025
With the tremendous use of White label telemedicine solutions during the pandemic in North America, it’s likely to grow telehealth exponentially in the coming year. Healthcare experts anticipate more usage of telemedicine to set appointments and follow up and take treatment from doctors virtually in the near future. In addition to this, telemedicine supports reputed pharmaceutical firms to connect with their patients, believing to be more patient-centric with the support of the pharma and healthcare industry. Take it further, the US and the Canadian government have decided to liberal the law for telehealth and encourage telemedicine services so that patients don’t have to find difficulties in order to receive medical services. Also, great funding from information communication technology is also responsible for this exponential growth of telemedicine.