Telemedicine has had profound implications on doctor-patient interactions and the provision of treatment and healthcare. However, despite its multiple benefits, the healthcare world has been slow in accepting and implementing telemedicine, and the entire process has been interspersed with complications. All this leads up to the big question – is telemedicine the healthcare of the future?
What are the implications for traditional healthcare organizations?
The hesitation to adopt telemedicine in clinics and hospitals is motivated, in part, by the apprehension that it might take the place of in-person contact and consultations between providers and patients. If patients can access their healthcare providers from the comfort of their homes, why would they bother coming to hospitals and clinics? However, this is nothing more than a misconception.
Instead of fearing the change, healthcare providers need to realize that telemedicine can be a great way to increase revenue. Setting up a system which allows patients remote access to doctors for virtual consultations will keep losses from skipped appointments to a minimum. Even if patients are unable to travel to the hospital/clinic for some reason or the other, they can still keep their appointment by arranging a virtual visit and then submitting payment for it online.
Therefore, the solutions provided by telehealth should be seen for what they are – effective growth opportunities for businesses, without incurring extra costs or utilizing excessive amounts of resources.
What are patients’ opinions on telehealth
Patients’ views on telehealth solutions are divided. Some patients are of the opinion that it is impossible to provide complete and thorough health care, diagnosis and treatment without an in-person visit and a physical examination. Patients who reside in rural or remote locations, however, feel that it is an effective and convenient solution, as it gives them the ability to consult specialists, which would be very difficult for them otherwise.
A global revenue forecast for telemedicine (2013-2018)
On a global scale, an increase has been detected in telehealth services and devices, suggesting that adoption of telehealth is on the rise. In light of this, the market is estimated to be worth $4.5 billion USD by 2018.
This growth and prediction suggest that despite the suspicions about telehealth and the quality of the care it provides, it is gradually gaining acceptance among providers and patients, as it increases convenience and ease of access to care, consequently leading to better healthcare results.
The growing pervasiveness of telemedicine software usage is also due, in part, to the increase in mobile phone usage, and changes in the behavior of patients, who are now connected 24/7 through smartphones and wearable gadgets such as smartwatches. In addition, the growing adoption of telemedicine can also be attributed to the ease it provides to chronically ill patients and those living in remote areas where they have little to no access to specialists.