Telemedicine has beat every forecast and prediction by showcasing the growth that very few have replicated in the healthcare industry. Even after the resumption of routine in-person doctor visits, it is still inevitably growing exponentially and becoming a go-to medium to access healthcare.
A well-developed Telemedicine app enables patients to interact with doctors from the comfort of their homes, allows them to save time and money, and enables doctors to assess patients’ medical records and reports. And because these points resonate well with current medical needs and trends, telemedicine has rapidly become the ‘new normal.’
Telemedicine: Pre and Post COVID-19:
Although telemedicine was worth $34.2 billion in 2018 and had already reached $49.89 billion in market value in 2019, many experts deemed it just as a fad and predicted that it will quickly go away after COVID-19 induced lockdown in most parts of the world is lifted. They thought telemedicine was just a stop-gap solution, but the perpetual rise in the adoption of telemedicine post-covid-19 represents a different picture.
There’s no denying the fact that the adoption of telemedicine was greatly boosted by COVID-19, we will see with the help of the latest stats and trends of the market that it was not the only reason behind its sustained growth.
In this blog, we will try to understand why telemedicine is here for the long haul by looking at the 5 ways how it is becoming a new normal. Let’s dissect these above-mentioned topics in greater detail and assess them one-by-one.
1. Overcoming Location Barrier:
Founder of BOD Consulting, Saurabh Uboweja, opined that "Post Covid-19, Digital solutions that limit people's movement, reduce cost, and yet increase productivity, such as video conferencing and telemedicine, will become the norm."
It is a boon for people residing in distant, hilly, and rural areas. If you ask people residing in these areas whether they prefer telemedicine or not? The answer would be a resounding yes. Because sometimes, the lack of it would mean losing crucial access to healthcare. Residents of these areas have welcomed telemedicine with open hands because it has improved accessibility for them and allowed them to interact with the doctor virtually.
These are the benefits of telemedicine in rural areas.
2. Cost-effective solution:
A report from McKinsey International establishes the cost-effectiveness of telemedicine as, "Telemedicine might be more affordable than in-person consultations: in trials, it reduced consultation costs by about 30%."
It further stated, "If telemedicine replaced 30-40% of in-person visits, and the overall healthcare industry adopts digitization, India might save up to $10 billion in 2025."
That is a huge number, isn't it? Additionally, this is an estimation just for one country. Imagine how big the savings would be for the healthcare industry worldwide.
But one might ask how it helps in saving money? Simple: By reducing travel expenses. And for people living in rural areas, visiting a doctor becomes a whole day affair, so apart from expensive travel expenses, they need to shell out more money for food-arrangements as well.
3. Increased Time-Saving:
For in-person visits, patients need to make time not just for appointments but also for traveling to and from the doctor’s office. Whereas in telemedicine, they just need to take time for the session only.
Patients often complain that they spend 5-10 times more time traveling than meeting with the doctor. This is supported by a research paper in Health Service Research. It stated, “On average, doctors spend 17.4 minutes per patient.” Now take average traveling time into consideration and compare it with the time spent with the doctor. You will get the idea of why patients complain about time-waste during traveling. This wasted time along with parking issues, traffic, mobility difficulties, and huge waiting lines don’t make it a pleasant experience. Telemedicine offers an alternative to all these factors.
4. Improved Convenience:
The former head of the National Telecommunications & Information Administration, Larry Irving, is of the opinion that the ‘new normal’ will include using technology extensively in most facets of life. He further adds that “It simply isn’t realistic to believe that now that folks have found out they can travel less, commute for fewer hours, study or review educational materials on their own time and obtain a medical opinion or diagnosis without sitting for endless hours in a doctor’s office waiting room that they will return willingly to the old normal.”
Looking at the reception telemedicine has received, it is indeed unlikely that people would voluntarily go back to cumbersome and tiring physical doctor visits by ditching telemedicine. Furthermore, it offers convenience to all the stakeholders involved - by allowing the doctors to visit the patients without being present at the clinic and enabling the patients to access health care without leaving the comfort of their home.
5. Discreet meeting with doctors:
Telemedicine allows patients to consult with doctors from the privacy of their homes. They won’t have to worry about bumping into their relatives or someone they know. Once they are connected to the doctor, their meeting will be private and discreet.
Despite offering a discreet meeting with the doctor, it doesn't compromise the quality of healthcare. In fact, it only enhances the overall quality of consultation. It is the closest alternative to in-person consultation as it allows the doctor to see the visual cues.
Almost all the forecasts predict enormous growth for upcoming years, making it one of the most lucrative fields. ‘Digital Agenda for Europe’ by the European Commission promotes telehealth aiming to increase access to quality healthcare. It states that the EU digital is growing at 12% each year. The main elements of the agenda include open Internet and reinforced consumer rights.
The report mentions that the costs of health and social care will rise significantly to about 9% of the EU’s gross domestic product in 2050. Technologies like telemedicine can contribute by providing Europe better, cheaper, and higher quality services for health. The introduction of information and communications technologies and telemedicine alone is estimated to improve the efficiency of healthcare by 20%.
Telemedicine is indeed establishing its place as ‘a new normal’ in healthcare because of multifold benefits for doctors and patients alike. There are some roadblocks like lack of awareness about telemedicine, but they are eventually going to be eliminated as more and more people are becoming familiar with it.
Do you want to implement telemedicine in your clinic? This handy guide gives step-by-step information about how to implement telemedicine in your hospital or clinic.
For a sustainable and successful telemedicine program deployment, it is essential to consult with a domain expert like EMed PharmaTech having experience in the healthcare IT field for more than 15 years.