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Rise of Telehealth: Transforming Healthcare through Digital Communication

Were you aware of consulting about your health using digital communication before covid-19? Most of us did not believe in the process of online consultation, but now several changes have occurred to enhance telehealth in the healthcare industry.

What is Telehealth?

Telehealth is defined as the delivery and assistance of health and health-related services comprising medical care, provider and patient education, health information services using electronic means for the diagnosis of treatment and prevention of disease and injuries, research and evaluation, and education of healthcare providers. Live video conferencing, mobile health apps, and remote patient monitoring (RPM) are examples of technologies used in telehealth via computers and mobile devices, such as tablets and smartphones. It offers a convenient and cost-effective way for individuals with health problems to seek medical care from the comfort of their respective homes.

Telehealth during COVID-19

The abrupt spread of the coronavirus restrained individuals from moving in crowds and reduced interactions globally. As a result, telehealth appeared as a crucial healthcare service to help individuals connect with service providers and diagnose their issues, and led in-person care quickly transitioned to remote consultation as demand and use of telehealth technologies witnessed a significant surge. In such a scenario, practitioners have been forced to switch to telehealth to provide patients with superior care.

How has COVID-19 brought changes to telehealth?

What’s prominent now is how remote patient care has become more accessible than ever before. With the help of digitalisation and telehealth, it has become more accessible to undergo the treatment of chronic illnesses in no time, like endocrinology, rheumatology, gastroenterology, psychiatric counselling, and overall long-term care. Telehealth technology has helped reduce the exposure of patients to other sick people.

Companies are bringing the pathway of telehealth to the market

After the surge of coronavirus, it is not hidden from us that the need for resources in the healthcare industry has exploded in the past few years, which has created a pivot pathway for many companies to focus on healthcare and technologies enhancing the healthcare system. Below are mentioned a few companies which provide various technologies through their platforms:

  • 23andMe: 23andMe uses a person’s genetics to determine what diseases they are at risk for and lays out support plans that help them avoid or manage these conditions
  • Amazon: Telehealth doesn’t resonate with an e-commerce platform, but amazon recently built a telehealth service called Amazon Care for  Amazon employees.

A few of the other companies are mentioned below with their platform:

Telehealth Global Market:

According to The Business Research Company, the global telehealth market is anticipated to grow from $83 billion in 2020 to $319 billion in 2025 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 30.9%. The market is then predicted to grow to $521 billion in 2030 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.3%. The quick growth can be attributed to growing demand for telehealth services in diagnostics for COVID-19 and other illnesses during the lockdown period.

Challenges and Opportunities:

It has been very obvious to see how patients have benefited from the telehealth services with the improved access to care while they can access the treatment from their home. It is also found to have higher patient engagement rates in comparison to past years as patients are less anxious, which also reduces waiting time so providers can treat and engage more patients.

Despite providing many benefits, there are certain challenges faced as it gets integrated into the healthcare and insurance industries. Where reimbursement is one of the biggest challenges with telemedicine, scalability challenges for healthcare providers are yet to be overcome, and if healthcare organisations lack next-generation infrastructure, implementing, addressing, and scaling telehealth benefits will become extremely difficult. There are also some of the major problems that in general are not tackled yet, as follows:

  • Security: As with so many digital technologies, telehealth raises concerns about privacy and patient data security
  • Awareness: Telehealth challenges that patients often struggle with a lack of awareness or understanding. If they don’t know the option is present, they may never find a way to reach it
  • Access: Still patients may not have access to the technology necessary to make effective use of it and even if they do have access to the necessary technology, they may have difficulty using it correctly

Author: Riya Singh

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