How Telemedicine is Transforming Health Care

How Telemedicine is Transforming the Healthcare

According to the Business Brand Essence, the telemedicine market was $27.4 billion in 2019 and will reach a whopping $171.8 billion in five years with an estimated compound average growth rate (CAGR) of 37.2%.

A 2017 research article states that many hospitals, clinics, and healthcare institutions in the U.S make efforts to incorporate telemedicine or telehealth programs. These telemedicine programs will provide diagnoses, prescriptions, and treatment after consultations with doctors and physicians through teleconferencing tools and apps.

According to the American Telemedicine Association, over 50% of hospitals in the U.S have a telemedicine program. Mid-City News reports that 90% of healthcare professionals will develop mobile-friendly telemedicine applications soon.

The Center for Connected Health Policy (CCHPCA) highlights that 48 American States will need payers to cover telemedicine programs and services. According to Towers Watson, over 70% of health organizations plan to implement telemedicine services.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 43% of hospitals and clinics offered telemedicine services in 2019, which has increased to 95% during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Telehealth is transforming the health care delivery in the U.S, U.K, Canada, Australia, Germany, and other advanced countries. Telemedicine services improve patient’s access to healthcare, enhance health outcomes, and boost satisfaction through remote monitoring, videoconferencing, wireless communications, and electronic consults.


What is Telemedicine?

Telemedicine refers to the use of information and communication technology (ICT) to enhance patient outcomes. It focuses on technology apps, allowing patients to access healthcare, medical information, and receive treatment without visiting the hospital.

For example, social distancing is a crucial factor for people to maintain during the Covid-19 pandemic. Health care services delivery by doctors, physicians, dentists, surgeons (pre-operative and post-operative consultancy) using ICT tools has become very important during the pandemic.

Telemedicine aims to exchange valid medical information to patients, including diagnosis, treatment, and disease prevention. Studies show that research and evaluation in telemedicine will advance the communities’ overall health and wellbeing.

For instance, a 50 years old patient living in a remote village suffers from back pain due to a herniated disc and requires minimally invasive spine surgery after conservative treatments, including medication and epidural steroidal injection fail to provide relief.

The patient will contact a surgery clinic and consult the neurosurgeon via a teleconferencing app to seek pre-operative health. The neurosurgeon will examine the symptoms and recommend the type of minimally invasive surgery required to treat his or her herniated disc.

Although the patient will visit the clinic for surgery, he will receive post-operative healthcare or rehabilitation from the comfort of his home using a video communication tool or app. The surgeon will prescribe medications to reduce pain and instruct the patient on physical therapy exercises to speed up the rehabilitation process.


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The Importance of Telemedicine

Telemedicine offers around-the-clock and immediate access to health professionals, including doctors, physicians, and dentists who are not readily available in the local community. It helps doctors perform remote monitoring and evaluation without requiring people to visit hospitals and clinics.

Compared to conventional care options, telemedicine is affordable and convenient, leading to improve health outcomes. Telemedicine likewise improves a health center’s workforce stability and allows local doctors to contact distant health specialists to develop a proper treatment plan for the patient.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, health systems in the U.S are at the forefront and making efforts to expand telemedicine programs and services. Many healthcare services can benefit from telemedicine.

For instance, ICT tools enable home health providers to recalibrate patient diagnostic and treatment plans, increase online patient visits and reduce travel. Therefore, rural patients can access specialists using teleconferencing tools and seek care.

How does it Work?

As the name indicates, telemedicine refers to using ICT tools, online portals, video communication apps, and emails. Patients use these platforms to communicate with doctors without visiting the hospital or clinic.

With telemedicine, patients can discuss their symptoms, health conditions, and medication prescriptions. Telemedicine is based on the principle of remote assistance, including teleconsultations for diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up.

Telemedicine also focuses on administrative patient management, including laboratory test requirements and billing problems for healthcare service delivery. There are many applications of telemedicine in all medical specialties, including:


  • Tele-radiology (x-rays and diagnostic imaging)
  • Tele-pathology (clinical laboratory and patient e-records management)
  • Tele-Dermatology (skin treatment through videoconferences)
  • Tele-Psychiatry (use of ICT tools and apps to help treat mental health patients)
  • Tele-Cardiology (Cardiovascular conditions treatment using ICT tools)

Bear in mind that hospitals use telemedicine resources with virtual reality (VR), artificial intelligence (AI), and robotics to monitor surgeries or perform remote surgical procedures. Therefore, telesurgery is another vital application of telemedicine.

Benefits of Telemedicine

Information and communication technology (ICT) has enabled health systems to improve comprehensive support, medical care, and follow-up treatment options for patients with acute and chronic conditions. Some of the telemedicine benefits from patients’ perspectives are:


Access to Quality Care

According to Statista, about 20% of the American population (57.23 million people) reside in rural areas. These areas are often underserved, and people don’t have access to quality care. Thanks to telemedicine, stereotypical views of rural residents being second-rate citizens have been eliminated.

With telemedicine, people in rural America can access state-of-the-art and quality care services like residents of metropolitan areas. Telemedicine has also improved provider-patient collaboration. For example, shared access to e-health records and doctor-to-doctor consultations provide rural patients with enhanced confidence and health outcomes.


Healthcare at Home

A growing body of research evidence shows that treating patients at home is affordable than conventional hospital treatment. Many patients in the U.S prefer staying at home until they require a higher level of care.

For example, telemedicine programs allow doctors and nurses to see more patients a day, leading to decreased visit time and reduced costs than conventional hospital care. Telemedicine has transformed healthcare because rural patients, including older adults, no longer travel to urban areas to consult specialists.


Saves Time and Expenses

Transportation cost savings is another benefit of telemedicine. People spend millions of dollars every year on automobile travel, emergency Evac, etc. Thanks to telemedicine, patients can save their time and money using videoconferencing tools.

Bear in mind that ICT apps and tools are no longer a foreign concept. Smartphone apps, web portals, and emails are more common today, allowing patients to use them effectively and quickly when seeking care.

The Future of Telemedicine

The $3.65 trillion medical industry in the United States is going through a substantial upheaval and turmoil. The Covid-19 pandemic, tech companies’ competition, and new federal policies have caused drastic changes across the healthcare industry. One of the significant shifts seen in the health industry is the widespread adoption of telemedicine programs.

Although researchers and analysts project the telemedicine industry would reach $171 billion by 2025, the growth accelerated during the Covid-19 pandemic. Some analysts say that the industry would grow more than the projected estimations.

An increasing number of hospitals and health clinics will adopt telemedicine programs. As it becomes more mainstream in the near future, 5G will enable real-time, fast bandwidth, and high-quality video communication. The fast transmission of colossal volumes of health data through 5G will streamline the telemedicine processes and operations, including:


  • Increased internet speed and bandwidth
  • More health device connections and reduced latency
  • Enhanced remote patient monitoring and evaluation
  • Improved remote and robotic surgeries
  • AI-based telemedicine apps with VR and AR capabilities

Final Words

Telemedicine is the future of the healthcare industry in the U.S and other
countries. Because face-to-face interaction is a crucial component of healthcare delivery, telemedicine enables this experience through videoconferencing tools.

Telemedicine offers a wide range of applications in different medical practices, including telesurgery, telepathology, telecardiology, psychotherapy, and mental health treatment. The introduction of 5G and its implementation in telemedicine will streamline the entire industry, leading to better healthcare access and increased ROIs for health organizations.

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