What began as a reliable source of medical checkups has now become the preferred choice by people worldwide. During COVID-19, virtual healthcare became a possibility, and despite the decline of the pandemic, telehealth is increasingly gaining popularity.
No one could have imagined that you could book your appointment, get medical checkups, diagnosis, treatment, and medicines delivered while you sit in your home. This all has tipped the scales in favor of telemedicine.
However, specific changes are expected in the telemedicine world over time. Technological advancements made it possible for doctors and patients to connect with each other through video calls, audio calls, emails, and text messages.
Since the pandemic, telemedicine has seen further growth, and much more changes are expected in the near future.
Artificial Intelligence in Telemedicine
We have all been hearing a lot about artificial intelligence and its use in various sectors. However, it has also stepped into the field of telemedicine, changing the processes of patient care, patient access, and workload distribution.
One example of using Artificial Intelligence in telemedicine is in ICU command centers where patients are monitored, and any emergency alert is immediately sent out to doctors. AI can also be used to triage patients, diagnose their symptoms, and plan their treatment.
Despite being helpful, AI also poses certain threats to telemedicine. If not used and managed properly, it will increase the workload of some healthcare providers, such as radiologists.
There is also a risk of more workflow fragmentation, which makes it difficult for doctors to focus on different tasks simultaneously. Clinicians will then lose their trust in Artificial Intelligence. For maximum efficiency in the telemedicine world, healthcare providers should only use AI in specific areas after scrupulous examinations.
Treating Severe Diseases
Technology has paved the way for creating procedures that can help in treating critical illnesses. Using a genetic fingerprint analysis, a patient with a grave disorder can be treated based on the patient’s lifestyle, surroundings, and genetic structure.
Such changes are bound to change the telemedicine world completely and improve healthcare models drastically. Medical solutions in the areas of oncology, neurology, bone procedures, and cardiology are also underway, all due to technological advancement in telemedicine.
Benefits of Telemedicine
There’s a reason why telemedicine has become successful. Apart from being convenient and quicker, telemedicine has numerous benefits.
Healthcare in rural areas
Prior to COVID-19, there were limited opportunities for people in rural areas to receive proper treatment. Development in the telemedicine world has pushed forward the development of solutions to move past the barriers that restrict telemedicine from reaching patients in rural areas. There is a lack of physicians in rural areas who can be covered due to telemedicine.
High-quality primary healthcare
Patients were surveyed to find out how satisfactory telemedicine was for them. Studies and research show that patients stated telemedicine to be satisfactory for their primary healthcare needs and that they preferred online healthcare to in-person visitations to healthcare providers.
Moreover, other studies found that postoperative care was highly successful in using text messaging, video calls, and questionnaires to list out symptoms. Using these technologies, no symptoms were disregarded by doctors and physicians.
Using Telemedicine in medical specialties
Specialists, including psychiatrists, radiologists, and even cardiologists, are keen on relying on telemedicine after the pandemic. While maintaining social distancing, doctors specializing in these fields found telemedicine as a more reliable source of providing services to patients. With greater utilization of telemedicine, there are more chances of improvement in these sectors in the future.
Telemedicine saves money
Since the basis of telemedicine is remote patient monitoring, patients end up saving a major chunk of money that they previously spent on in-person visits to hospitals or clinics.
On average, patients save between $19 to $121 per visit. The majority of these savings stem from emergency health visits. Moreover, monitoring patients with chronic illnesses saves them from spending on costly hospitalizations and checkups.
The US healthcare system is already overburdened hence utilizing the costs in this sector is highly important. If only 1% of emergency visits were reduced due to telemedicine, healthcare costs would see a decrease of $101,920,000 annually.
These reduced emergency appointments are necessary to ease the burden on the healthcare system, and this is only possible with the help of telemedicine.
Reduced carbon footprints
Traveling for in-person appointments has now been replaced with the option of online doctor consultations, which has significantly reduced carbon emissions. This not only reduces air pollution but also makes it convenient for those who are unable to travel for doctor appointments.
Hindrances With Telemedicine
While telemedicine provides innumerable benefits to people and the healthcare system, there are some disadvantages that need to be considered. The main idea is that consumers are unaware of the telemedicine services accessible as well as the costs attached to them.
Patients in rural and suburban areas have no idea about the concept of telemedicine. Hence, those who seem to benefit from it the most are clueless about it.
Moreover, those who have little to no access to traditional healthcare are also going to have minimum access to telemedicine. These include older people who don’t have technical knowledge and reside in rural areas. Lack of education and learning deprives these people of telemedicine.
Furthermore, another important issue arises. In this digital age, where people are already glued to their devices, patients and doctors will face increased screen time and limited socialization. Despite these negative aspects of telemedicine, there is a lot of room for its growth in the healthcare industry.