According to a statistic from Medgadget, “The global telemedicine market is valued at USD 27.04 billion in 2019 and is expected to reach USD 171.81 billion by 2026 with a CAGR of 37.2% during the forecast period. “
The COVID-19 pandemic has seriously accelerated the adoption and implementation of telehealth services, such as remote patient monitoring and out-of-office “visits” – a trend already on the rise. Virtual medical appointments are a given in a pandemic – patients can receive healthcare without risking exposure to infectious agents from the comfort and convenience of their own homes.
Nonetheless, there are barriers to the mass adoption of telehealth services. Physicians and patients raise legitimate questions and concerns about the safety, effectiveness and accessibility of telehealth.
With COVID-19 catalyzing the rise of telehealth options, how can we expect to see this trend used now and in the future? And what are the implications for patients and providers?
Telehealth is expanding, but not without barriers
Telehealth opens the door for more patients to gain deeper access to their health care over longer periods of time.
This year we are and will continue to see patients with chronic conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension, for example, use telehealth services. Remote monitoring is becoming an emerging trend for those in need of ongoing care. Wearable technology allows physicians to check the health of their patients between physical office visits.
But the benefits that telehealth can bring to patients and physicians are not met without challenges. According to an article by NPJ, barriers to telehealth services are a major concern. For example, many adults do not have access to a computer or smartphone, or have significant gaps in their knowledge of navigating the digital world.
In addition, there is insufficient evidence regarding the financial impact of telehealth, access to care and quality of care – all factors that lead to hesitation in further adoption.
Privacy and Eligibility Will Be Top Priority for Telehealth Adoption – Step Into Advanced Technology
One of the primary requirements for physicians when acquiring telehealth services is to protect patients and practices from liability and privacy concerns.
The reason why telehealth companies were able to scale at such a rapid pace was due to relaxed restrictions on patient confidentiality and eligibility. COVID-19 swept across the country so quickly that some of them came out the window. But, rightly so, many patients are concerned about their privacy. Now that we are more than a year into the pandemic and the implementation of these restrictions is more under control, telehealth will once again be offered with tighter control over privacy and security.
Up-to-date technological encryption will be an absolute must so that telehealth services can be practiced safely at maximum usage. At this time, there are a growing number of physicians who have grown up during the digital transformation, so many are comfortable with digital and technological advancements – a big advantage in understanding and delivering sustainable telehealth solutions.
Collaboration is the key to implementing telehealth
Doctors have always been left out of the equation when it comes to usability and workflow technologies. Is it critically important that the major players work together to continue to provide the voice and perspective of physicians? In this way, telehealth solutions can be developed and adopted in a way that will greatly benefit patients and providers.
Mental health at the heart of telehealth
The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly exacerbated the state of mental health around the world. With uncertainty looming and increased isolation, people with mental illness have been hit hard. We have seen the launch of a number of mental health focused apps and a significant increase in downloads in digital mental health therapy and counseling.
On the patient side, this increased focus on providing better mental health care will serve as a relief to those who are struggling at this time.
In 2021, telehealth is on track to continue to grow and tackle current barriers so that everyone can have better access to their health care. The key to successful adoption is the ability of providers to meet the technological and digital demands necessary to better serve their patients and how they can keep up with the ongoing and changing care of patients with chronic physical and mental illness.