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23 June, 2020
By Boris Abazher
Telemedicine: A Growing Demand for Virtual Healthcare

Covid-19 cases may have flattened in many countries but it indeed changed the way people want to interact with doctors. Instead of in-person services, patients are looking for adoption of telemedicine. It means connecting to healthcare providers using video appointments and virtual tours. 

Overview of the telemedicine market 

Telehealth or Telemedicine is a broad category of services that aim to rethink healthcare delivery. It relies on the accessible technology and devices in the mass adoption phase. Telemedicine is most known for conducting medical practice over the internet which results in rapid diagnosis, increased efficiency and reduction of stress for patients. It is an optimal solution for a range of  common health problems, including follow-up care, when an offline doctor visit is unnecessary.

The growing demand for telemedicine. From a blog by Solv

There is a number of advantages for this health tech:

1. Broader access to the care

The reports say,  more than 50% of the US population lament about at least one chronic illness. Telemedicine offers easy medical access to patients who reside in rural communities, dozens miles away from reliable health care. One may argue that in order for it to work a good broadband connection is needed. In fact, a solution to that is a local telemedicine internet cafes could be established that enable patients to connect to appropriate specialists perhaps a thousand miles away.

2. Optimization 

While more people are potentially able to get care they need, less people are going to actually wait in the line. Optimization on the hospital level — when there is a smart registration and digitized medical records — is fine. But when the entire industry gets optimized, with rituals changed, that’s a different story. Moreover, telemedicine promises to save up quite a lot of space.

3. Cost saving

That said, optimization and broader access to healthcare in most cases lead to cost saving. The money could be directed to doctors’ salaries and increasing the number of nurses. The latter is another growing trend with an ageing population in the developed world.

4. Popularizing preventive care 

Finally, telemedicine can push for an additional benefit. By bringing the cost of appointments down, doctors will promote preventive care. This also leads to a better relationship with a physician.

Overview of the telemedicine technology

Years before, the electronic health records and online-prescriptions were both innovative and transformative. Nevertheless, these were the doctors, insurers, and the federal government who drove their adoption. With telemedicine, patients themselves are looking for safer, faster, and better options of healthcare.

In March, startup Solv  reported an increase in consumer telemedicine by three times. Moreover, this on-day medical appointments startup noticed a decline in walk-in patient traffic by 57% as well as a decrease in the number of people booking their visits more than a day prior. In fact, there is a range of software solutions for telemedicine today.

Doxy.me provides healthcare professionals a free and HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) compliant video platform to connect with their patients seamlessly. Similarly, Doctor on Demand lets customers conduct a complete virtual visit with their own wellness practitioners directly on the platform whereas  NextTech Patient Portal  helps to send automatic reminders bringing down the number of skipped appointments.

In addition, there are healthcare practice management platforms like  Patient Pop  but it is used by smaller providers across the US.  Talkspace grants access to thousands of licensed therapists starting at $65 a week. First, the customers receive an assessment. Then, they’re matched with a suitable therapist.  iPatientCare connects medical practitioners with labs, pharmacies, immunization and state registries, and positions itself as an electronic health record (EHR) management system. It assists with expanding the reach, reducing potential errors, and bringing efficiency. Some of the features are workflow customization, compliance tracking, patient engagement, and revenue scheduling management.

PatientPop

OsiriX HD  is a full Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) image viewer that enables doctors to manipulate with ultrasound, MRI, CT, and PET scans. With OsiriX HD they can access, download, and operate images using only an iPhone or iPad. Such tools allow health organizations like Kaiser Permanente to reduce in-person visits by 40% thanks to telemedicine.   

Beyond treatment, there are solutions like  Second Nature that tap into changing habits and helping people to lose weight in just 3 months. The platform is backed by the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) and delivers its users fun and delicious recipes while saving them from counting calories. Additionally, the clients may ask for online support from nutrition coaches and download a tracking app to monitor the progress.

A final step to popularize telehealth is connecting to gadgets that are so integral to our lives.  Spire Health  Tag is a free iOS app that tracks users’ sleep, stress levels, and other important details like activity, and pulse rate. The app nudges users into understanding their own sleep patterns and seeking ways to make their sleep even healthier. With it, one can review daily calories and steps walked to manage stress and take action before symptoms show up. Seven years of research from Stanford University back its technology and thousands of health professionals recommended it.

OsiriX HD

There is a device that should fit the category of telemedicine, too. It’s  Fitbit Charge 3, an advanced health and fitness wearable. It makes it easier for consumers to get health insights by measuring their heart rate round the clock and controlling the calorie intake. Based on advanced algorithms and heart rate sensors, users receive accurate information live. Not only are they able to work out more effectively and adapt exercises to burn calories, but they also may potentially share the vital information with doctors using the telemedicine software described earlier.

Summary

Despite the coronavirus crisis, the incorporation of developments like telemedicine promises to transform medical care. The benefits are clear: telehealth will bring broader access to the care, better optimization by cutting lines and reducing the space required at hospitals, significant cost saving, and popularity of preventive care. The future is here, it just needs reliable software.

 

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