Published on July 26, 2022 by Shweta Gupta
Telemedicine is ubiquitous — the new standard of service in all healthcare settings, shifting the overall healthcare paradigm towards more-value-based care that reduces costs, increases revenue and enhances patient satisfaction. It refers to healthcare providers meeting with patients remotely, via telephone or video and has merged with traditional inpatient care, instead of becoming a separate practice. Leading healthcare and pharma companies, insurance payors and providers have deployed telemedicine and other digital health tech platforms to enhance growth, accelerated by the pandemic.
In this blog, we take a close look at key statistics; the benefits, growth drivers and impact of telemedicine; and recent trends in the space:
Advantages and growth drivers:
- Advantages include easy access to specialists, lower costs, access for rural communities, reduced medical overhead costs, insurance reimbursement, support for individuals with chronic conditions and online psychiatric support
- Factors driving the telemedicine market include availability of digital patient information; high cost of traditional care; relaxation of regulatory standards; technological advancements such as integration of artificial intelligence (AI) into telemedicine; increasing awareness; government support; and rising cases of chronic diseases
The global digital health market was valued at USD96.5bn in 2020 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 15.1% from 2021 to 2028.
Telemedicine trends: Virtual care in Canada has grown by 240% since April 2020, with 45% of clinicians choosing to implement telemedicine services in their practice, according to McKinsey’s 2020 survey report. One in four Americans used telemedicine services amid the pandemic, and the use of telemedicine services has increased 10-fold in China since March 2020.
Key telemedicine trends: Trend #1: Embedded EHR telehealth
Healthcare professionals providing telemedicine services use electronic health records (EHRs). With the increase in provider-to-provider telemedicine consultations (whether between provider organisations or within a single healthcare organisation), patients’ EHRs are available to all clinicians.
Advantages of EHR-based telehealth
Internet of Things (IoT) solutions and wearables are two of the most prominent trends in telemedicine. Healthcare technology providers invest in software that connects patients and physicians through physical devices.
Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) tools help clinicians monitor patients at home. Modern smart beds, inhalers, ECG and EKG monitors can exchange information with telemedicine apps through an internet connection. This increases patient comfort and reduces the load on offline healthcare facilities.
The increasing adoption of big data analytics and AI is further driving growth in the global telemedicine market. Large amounts of data can be stored in AI-based software and programs. Physicians can store not only a patient’s personal information, but also demographic and geographic data, to provide the best possible care. This technology also ensures data privacy, abiding by data protection laws. Combining big data with AI has created lucrative growth opportunities for healthcare professionals around the world.
Trend #4: Augmented reality (AR) for quality care
AR and VR applications include the following:
- Displaying detailed body scans
- Distracting patients during painful procedures
- Increasing the accuracy of diagnoses
- Explaining medical treatment to patients
- Showing how the patient will react to the treatment
- Teaching complex procedures to medical students
Trend #5: Data protection through cybersecurity
Virtual healthcare or telemedicine uses technology to enable patient-physician interaction, deliver care and facilitate services without the need to visit in person. As the capabilities and popularity of virtual healthcare services increase, healthcare organisations would need to continue investing in processes to ensure data security and identify and mitigate risks. The following are the five key areas to address:
- Ensuring security of medical devices and wearables
- Managing identity and authenticating external devices
- Monitoring security of telemedicine services and behavioural analysis
- Development, security and operations (DevSecOps)
- Training in telemedicine security and creating awareness
Trend #6: Telehealth solutions with robotic process automation (RPA)
RPA drives efficiency, and the precision it offers makes it cost-effective. RPA is used widely by healthcare organisations in appointment scheduling, hospital administration and data management protocols.
All areas of healthcare technology (healthtech) will likely continue to improve as the year progresses, with leading healthtech companies already adopting virtual modes of teleconsultation and AI and RPA tools to enhance work quality and productivity, and increase return on investment. Digitalisation is one of the most valuable ways in which to capitalise on the significant opportunity created by the increasing use of telehealth services. The quality and efficiency of care would continue to improve with ground-breaking and evolving technologies including cybersecurity, IoMT, machine learning and AR.
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About the Author
Shweta Gupta has over 12+ years of experience in healthcare, life science research as CI and strategy consultant for pharmaceutical companies. She currently works in the private equity and consulting practice at Acuity Knowledge Partners and supports healthcare corporate and consulting clients in providing scientific, clinical and commercial insights. She has experience in competitive intelligence, therapy area assessment, mergers and acquisition, market sizing and forecasting, clinical trial analysis and scientific conference coverage. She holds hands on experience and knowledge of proprietary databases including Evaluate Pharma, Thomson Cortellis, Adisinsight, Pharmaprojects, Datamonitor and Merger Market.
Prior to Acuity Knowledge Partners, she worked as a research manager in blue-chip pharma company. In addition to this, she has also worked with Smart Analyst and WNS Global Services, and was involved in end to end planning, execution and conclusion of client deliverables. Apart from this, her major role also included team handling and business development.