If you’ve yet to come across the term ‘telemedicine’, it’s defined as follows: ‘Telemedicine is the use of technology to virtually administer medical advice, prognosis, and support from a qualified practitioner to a telehealth patient.’
With more reliance on technology now than ever due to the world addressing the COVID-19 crisis, the advancement of digital products and services has been surmountable. As the globe learns to embrace this approach, we see a considerable rise in telemedicine services, one of, if not, the fastest-growing areas of healthcare.
Telemedicine is not a new concept, but perhaps an often overlooked one. With the lockdown of physical locations and the postponement of healthcare appointments deemed ‘unessential,’ the rise of telemedicine in 2020 thrived in lieu of typical face-to-face healthcare services.
Video-Conferencing To Integrated Telemedicine Systems
During the first half of the year, simple video-conferencing software such as Zoom quickly facilitated compliant and virtual appointments between healthcare professionals and their clients. Telemedicine enables qualified healthcare professionals to safely and remotely provide their services to telehealth patients, eliminating in-person interactions and the chance of viral transmission.
Services offered via telemedicine include mental health support, chronic disease management, psychiatry, family planning, medication renewal, on-call visits, and much more. Facing this unpredictable pandemic, without any concrete evidence of an ‘end-date,’ the need for telemedicine services is essential. In the US, there has been a 33% increase in Americans attending telemedicine appointments from 14% (pre-COVID) to 57% (after the outbreak of the virus).
Companies, organizations, and individuals quickly understood the urgency to adapt to, embrace, and include this growing trend as an integral part of delivering their services. Working from home has taken on a whole other meaning. Remote work is not just for corporate workers or digital nomads. It now includes healthcare workers, and from there, the opportunities to adapt to remote work like telemedicine are endless.
Had the adaption to telemedicine not increased, many patients or clients in need of this vital service would have had little to no support and be left stranded. In Doximity’s recent ‘2020 State of Telemedicine Report’, they projected that telemedicine accounted for 20% of healthcare visits throughout 2020. In terms of long-term care patients, it can reduce the need for regular trips to hospitals or clinics.
Safeguarding Patient Data
Finding a solution that allows you or your team to continue delivering your services at a high standard is not to be taken lightly, either. As the new virtual clinic or space for these interactions, services need to facilitate ease of use, client confidentiality, data security, and professional compliance.
With any growing technology, precisely one that deals with sensitive patient data, privacy, and safety concerns must be addressed. Blockchain is the perfect solution for such privacy concerns as it enables decentralized storage of data so that no central party has control over its content. Placing data protection at the top of your agenda puts your patients’ safety first while maintaining a reliable service. Blockchain ensures that records cannot be tampered with because every member has to agree to its validity and can check the history of record changes.
With new social distancing protocols, the rise in telemedicine is self-explanatory. Online appointments may have contributed to a lower number of infected citizens than facilities and areas which do not offer telemedicine services.
This industry goes beyond virtual calls or videos. Companies that offer specific telehealth facilities where, in the instance, a patient does not have access to wifi, digital devices, etc., allow patients to go to a dedicated space to be monitored in physical isolation with the necessary setup.
Adapting To Telemedicine
For healthcare professionals, female physicians have been quicker to engage in telemedicine at a rate of 24% higher than their male counterparts.
We’ve seen a rise in teleconsultation, telecardiology, teledermatology, teleradiology, and more. However, telemedicine is not only a service that has skyrocketed for human care; the veterinary telemedicine market has seen significant changes too.
Integrating your electronic health records with telemedicine systems streamlines complex workflows, reducing care delivery costs while driving health system revenue. The benefits of telemedicine are clear. Advanced software and equipment provide an alternative user experience for practitioners and patients alike, increased flexibility, and a simplified structure.
From the humble beginnings of just using a video-conferencing tool, there are now various solutions to deliver, support, and streamline these services. Future hurdles include a lack of access to relevant technology, networks, and connectivity, not to mention quality monitoring. However, with the dramatic and fundamental digital shift this year alone, solutions to these issues may be resolved sooner than we think. Watch this space.
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