Technological development has long ago penetrated all areas of our daily life. Of course, the healthcare industry didn’t stand aside either. In terms of its specifics and how this industry is treated in developed countries, one can understand why investors and entrepreneurs around the world continue to invest a lot of money in creating new digital health solutions and the introduction of high technologies like AI and VR.
Telemedicine (TM) is one of the most popular areas in this field. Telemedicine products have allowed people to minimize the distance between patients and doctors, provide access to consultations for people living in rural areas and unload the physical burden on the throughput of medical facilities. Needless to say, with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, all this has served the world community a lot. Today, we invite you to talk about how telemedicine has developed over the past year and a half, what effect the coronavirus has had on it, and what prospects await this area in the near future.
What does telemedicine have to offer?
While telemedicine continues to occupy the upper lines in the lists of the most popular digital health care destinations, not all people can correctly imagine the area and those services that are part of this direction. We have compiled a small introductory list to show you how and why telemedicine products can be used and what benefits they can bring, we have compiled a small introductory list.
- Educational processes and professional development. Healthcare facilities use telemedicine products for in-team courses, staff development, and education in general.
- Increasing accessibility. One of the main areas of use of TM applications and products is the task of providing medical care for people living far from medical centers or outside urban areas. In such a situation, they cannot get medical advisement on time and can use telemedicine applications to access a specialist.
- Observation of the elderly. Older people often become part of a risk group, which must be constantly monitored to detect any deviations and serious changes. In modern conditions, especially when taking into account the pandemic, it becomes more difficult and dangerous for them to receive such an observation on time. Telemedicine can reduce risks and reach more patients of this group & age.
- Physiological parameters tracking. Such important vitals as blood pressure and sugar, body temperature, pulse, and so on require constant monitoring even in the case of healthy people. As for patients, diabetics, and others, this is an absolute must. In addition, TM applications are used in heart disease cases when the doctor needs information, for example, on how the heart implant behaves. Also, such applications are used in work with newborns.
- Preliminary diagnosis and early disease detection. There are two main factors behind the emergence of TM applications to address these problems: an increase in life expectancy and an increase in the number of new and unknown diseases.
- Rehabilitation therapy. The rehabilitation process, whether mental or physical, is often long and difficult. The doctor needs to be in constant communication with the patient and telemedicine allows achieving this with no issues. Apps like Calm (more than 10,000,000 downloads on Google play) are real helpers for people suffering from excessive anxiety, for women in the pre and postnatal period, people suffering from depression, and so on.
- Organization of medical forums and advisory meetings. History knows examples of how the lack of timely assistance from specialists from other countries didn’t allow the provision of timely and necessary assistance. Even the largest medical centers often need analytics and advice from specialists from other countries, institutions, or fields. TM applications are irreplaceable participants in this kind of collaboration.
Telemedicine introduction benefits
Having discussed the scope of TM applications, we want to take a quick look at what benefits can be obtained through the introduction of such products.
- Increased adherence rate among patients.
- Reducing the number of visits to medical specialists and hospitalizations.
- Improving the quality of patient care and reducing the number of people suffering from mental and physical disorders.
- Reducing the number of deaths among patients prone to depression, cardiological, and endocrinological diseases.
- Improvement of patient satisfaction with healthcare.
- Increasing the level of understanding of their diseases and their causes among patients.
- Improvement of all economic indicators related to the provision of medical care and an increase in the efficiency of financial spending.
How has COVID-19 affected the industry?
Without a doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic and the global lockdown that followed gave an incredible impetus to the healthcare software development industry. It is estimated that the number of people using mobile TM apps to monitor their symptoms and consult with doctors has increased by about 100 times. These numbers are not surprising when we keep in mind the total lockdown and the fact that such applications are often free, small, and cross-platform.
The same study, which you can find by clicking on the link from the previous paragraph, indicates that, on average, more than 70% of users are completely satisfied with the service that TM applications provided them with and plan to use them in the future. Hence, it follows a completely logical conclusion that even in the case of a complete exit from the lockdown, one should not expect a strong rollback in terms of the popularity of TM applications among users.
Last but not least, the reason for this dynamic growth was not only the increase in demand among users but also the quick reaction of the authorities. For example, the federal service Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services quickly allowed expanded use of telemedicine services.
Trends & Prospects
It’s time to talk more specifically about what awaits the industry and segment soon.
One of the most important trends was the fact that the segment has gone up and wasn’t going to stop. As we mentioned above, in general, more than 70% of users are satisfied with their experience with TM applications, and the same number want to use the applications in a bright future without pandemics. In addition, according to data from Statista (note: you will need a registered account in order to see this data), from 60 to 75% of the surveyed US adults expressed their desire to use the TM application in their daily life, while about 15 % is already using them.
According to the same data from Statista, you can see that the total capitalization of the telemedicine market is expected to grow to $175 billion. Compare this to $45 in 2019 and the trend will become even more evident. The reason for this, of course, was largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Serving elderly people
Yes, according to the statistics above, you can see that people aged 65+ are least inclined to use TM applications. This is completely natural. Nevertheless, it is the work with this segment of the population that is one of the trends for the near future.
The fact is that the average life expectancy in Europe, North America, and the developed countries of Asia is constantly growing. Thus, there are more and more elderly people who often suffer from some kind of chronic disease and need constant care. It is for such people that TM applications will be created in the coming years. And even if the patients themselves are not inclined to use such applications and more trust in live face-to-face communication, the inability to leave the house (for various reasons) will be a strong argument in favor of using TM applications.
Psychosomatic problems are common and often not covered by insurance. Thus, in the matter of therapy in such diseases, people are left alone with their problems. This is why TM applications aimed at dealing with mental problems will be the trend in the coming years. Apps like Calm, which are already super popular today, will continue to appear.
In 2020, the telemedicine industry received a powerful new impetus after COVID-19 took over our world. Features such as remote communication with doctors, symptom tracking, push notification for taking pills and constant remote therapy have become a real way out of the situation for hundreds of millions of people who have locked themselves at home during a global lockdown.
And although, in general, humanity is slowly emerging from the pandemic, developing many vaccines, vaccinating the population, and gradually easing quarantine, there is no doubt that we have entered a new era of pandemics. Some scientists believe that the fourth wave of coronavirus is just around the corner, while others generally urge people to get used to the new order of things and prepare for more deadly pandemics in the future. We do not know what exactly of this will come true, but we can definitely say that in any development of events, TM applications will come in handy.
To sum up
The most obvious trend in the telemedicine industry is the fact that these applications have long become a part of our everyday life, like messengers or apps like Instagram. 2020 didn’t leave people with a choice, and now telemedicine is not something from the future and not a promising technology, but our reality, a market that will only develop in the coming years, and exponentially. We are confident that this industry will be one of the most promising and attractive destinations for investments in the coming years.
About the Author:
Ilya Kovtunov is a Content Writer at CodeIT – a software development company focused on creating custom healthcare solutions. Ilya is in love with the world of information technology since he was knee-high to a grasshopper. His professional experience includes 7+ years in content marketing, and therefore he always has something to write on.