Telehealth Trends of the 21st Century
Telehealth is the use of digital technologies to administer healthcare service to multiple users across separate locations. The use of telehealth technology is a twenty-first century approach that is both patient-centered and protects patients, physicians, as well as others.
Telehealth is an umbrella definition of technology-enabled health care services and is different from telemedicine. While telemedicine is simply the diagnosis and treatment of illnesses using technology, telehealth includes telemedicine, and other services such as assessment, monitoring, communications, prevention and education. It makes use of a broad range of telecommunications, health information, videoconferencing, and digital image technologies to deliver quality and real time medical services to patients around the world. It mostly requires just an internet-ready device.
Telehealth features services such as audio and video-enabled conferencing, clinical document generation, remote scheduling and appointments, browser-based web application architecture, patient history management and analysis, etc.
Driven by the twenty first century digital shift, virtual health visits have become increasingly popular and a welcomed alternative to traditional in-clinic care.
The use of telehealth in medical practice has grown so rapidly, going from 35% in 2010 to 76% in 2017, according to AHA annual survey.
With its growing awareness among patients, providers, health insurance companies and governments around the world — combined with the need to address COVID-19 physical distancing concerns and the need to protect vulnerable populations — it is likely that we will continue to see the demand for telehealth programs continue to increase in 2021 and beyond. The market is predicted to reach $191.7 billion by 2025.
Telehealth growth by AHA Annual survey IT supplement
Apart from the several benefits of telehealth in the medical world, it also encompasses a wider supply chain in critical areas such as cybersecurity, healthcare device production, health screening across corporate bodies and government consulates, and other businesses that integrate the use of telehealth.
With this growing popularity comes some telehealth trends that are likely to erupt in years to come: Below are four basic trends to look out for:
Continued increase in consumer demand for telehealth coverage
Contrary to some opinion, statistics have shown telehealth to be a cost-effective first line of treatment for non-emergency ailments and follow-up appointments.
As a result, 2021 will see more collaboration between health plan companies and state network providers to broaden and improve access to telehealth services. This will be a welcomed development for providers who will likely leverage on this trend to ramp up their investments in the technology needed to support video consultation.
More services, wider reach
Although the COVID-19 pandemic played a major role in bringing telehealth to centre stage in healthcare delivery, it is certain now, more than ever that telehealth will endure beyond the crisis and gain mainstream adoption. As medical research continues to show us new areas on where and how telehealth can be deployed, it will gain wider reach for more complex medical conditions, and will be able to be accessed by those who traditionally lack easy access to quality healthcare.
Growth of telehealth adjacent industries
As the demand for telehealth continues to grow, so will industries that produce services that are needed to support it. Some identified connecting industries like network providers, smart device manufacturers (e.g. in-home monitoring devices), telehealth platforms, etc., will also grow rapidly in business
Need for increased cyber/data due diligence
With the continuous growth and acceptance of telehealth, the healthcare sector is likely one of the most lucrative targets for cybercriminals due to the large amount of sensitive patient data pouring in, which are collected and stored over the cyber space. The protection of these vital information should be of great concern; therefore, any telemedicine strategy should of utmost priority, consider cybersecurity.
This goes to say that the burden lies greatly on healthcare providers to ensure third-party teleconferencing platforms are secure, and that patient data is protected. Telehealth platforms must meet federal and international laws such as HIPAA and NHA laws that protect patient data and cooperate with federal agencies in fighting data breaches, violations and reputation damages.
Overall, telehealth demand from patients is driving the growth of the industry. As providers look to expand or improve their telehealth programs, expect a new focus on patient expectations and experience. The future for telemedicine looks bright.