The Role of Telehealth in Healthcare Delivery
Telehealth has become increasingly important in the healthcare delivery system of today. As technology advances, it has become possible for patients to connect with doctors virtually, providing them with greater access to care from the comfort of their own homes. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of telehealth, as it enables patients to receive health services while avoiding physical contact.
Recent forecasts suggest that the telehealth market is expected to grow exponentially in the coming years, with a projected value of $397 billion by 2027. Additionally, a survey by McKinsey & Company found that 51% of consumers are interested in using telehealth in the future. These findings indicate that telehealth is not just a temporary solution, but rather an important aspect of modern healthcare delivery that is here to stay.
Telehealth vs. Telemedicine
While the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, there is a difference between the two. Telemedicine refers specifically to the role of technology to provide clinical services. This may include virtual consultations with doctors, remote monitoring of patients, or even remote surgeries.
Telehealth is often regarded as a broader term than telemedicine. These technologies make possible effective long-distance communication between health professionals and patients. They are especially useful during epidemics or pandemics, or simply when unfavorable weather conditions or personal issues make it difficult to visit doctors.
In summary, telemedicine refers specifically to the delivery of clinical services, while telehealth encompasses a wider range of services delivered using technology. In this article we’re going to talk generally about digitalization in healthcare, therefore both terms may be used interchangeably.
The History of Telehealth
The history of telemedicine delivery can be traced back to the late 19th century, when doctors began using the telephone to communicate with patients who were unable to visit their offices. The first technology to be used on a large scale was videoconferencing, which allowed doctors to examine patients remotely. The father of the term is Dr. Kenneth Bird, who used the term in an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1975. The first telemedicine delivery technology was developed in the 1950s by the US military, which used it to provide medical care to soldiers in remote locations.
Benefits of Telehealth/Telemedicine
Access to healthcare delivery services
Telehealth is an innovative way of connecting patients with professionals through remote communication technologies. This method of healthcare delivery has tremendously increased access to medical care for people living in hard-to-reach areas, those with mobility challenges, and those with limited access to transportation, among others.
First and foremost, telemedicine delivery solutions eliminate the need for physical infrastructure, such as hospitals or clinics, thereby reducing capital and operational expenses significantly. Secondly, provision of care without requiring the patient to travel physically to a medical facility plays an important role in telemedicine in healthcare, thereby reducing transportation costs and the need for special accommodation in hospitals.
Additionally, it can result in lower labor costs as fewer medical professionals are required to provide care, since technology enables providers to service a larger volume of patients more efficiently. Finally, telehealth services can help reduce the costs associated with missed or canceled appointments, which can be a significant expense for traditional healthcare delivery system providers.
Improved patient outcomes
With this technology, patients can consult with professionals anytime and anywhere, and receive timely medical attention for their conditions. Telehealth allows doctors to diagnose, monitor and manage patients’ health conditions remotely, which leads to better health outcomes for patients. This technology also enables patients to receive prompt medical interventions, which can be critical in life-threatening situations.
Increased patient engagement
A digital mental health platform is based on tools and functions that help people cope with health conditions and correct their behavior. Such apps include questionnaires for determining the symptoms of a disease. Educational articles and audio files describe the symptoms and help patients understand their state.
Such a platform allows you to make an appointment with a therapist, participate in video consultations, and communicate with doctors via online chat. A specialist can remotely prescribe treatment and monitor the progress of psychotherapy. Patients share the results of self-studies with their attending physicians.
Improved healthcare provider efficiency
A doctor can thoroughly analyze someone’s behavior not only during an offline visit. Online consultations which are based on high-quality technologies allow doctors to remotely contact patients and provide decent care online.
Improved the security of patients’ data
One more important role of telemedicine in healthcare is to ensure the security of patients’ data. Utilizing modern encryption technology and strict protocols, telemedicine providers keep patients’ medical data secure while they receive remote consultations and virtual care.
Furthermore, telemedicine minimizes risk of paper records being lost or destroyed, as all data is stored electronically and is easily accessed by authorized medical professionals. Patients also have more control over their data with telemedicine, as they can access and manage their medical records through secure online portals, reducing the risk of human error or mismanagement. Telehealth software apps and devices elaborated for special needs are HIPAA-compliant, which means optimal data protection.
Telehealth Software Development in 2023
Telehealth and life sciences trends have been gaining traction in recent years, the pandemic has further highlighted the necessity of such services. However, there are still several bottlenecks that need to be addressed within the healthcare delivery system. Firstly, interoperability remains a challenge. As healthcare providers use different software systems, it is crucial to ensure that telehealth software can interface with different systems to enable seamless data exchange.
Additionally, the lack of standardized protocols and guidelines can lead to confusion and challenges in developing software that is playing the crucial role of telemedicine in healthcare.
Lastly, the adoption of telehealth remains a hurdle as older generations may struggle with the software, and some healthcare delivery system providers may be hesitant to rely on medical care services. Thus, developers need to focus on addressing these challenges to create user-friendly, secure, and effective products that can drive adoption and improve healthcare access.
It is obvious that hospitals and clinics do not have to hire in-house software developers and may hand over the task of elaborating required apps to third-party IT companies. This will allow them to attract the best experts in this industry and obtain modern innovative solutions.
When talking about telemedicine and its role in revolutionizing healthcare delivery, the demand for reliable and high-quality digital solutions is on the rise. Understanding the crucial role of telemedicine in healthcare, companies are being gently pushed to partner with trusted software development vendors who can deliver tailor-made solutions that incorporate the latest technology and meet specific needs.