The COVID-19 or novel coronavirus outbreak has forced millions of people around the world to stay in their homes, with unprecedented lockdowns and community quarantines occurring worldwide. Doctors are overworked and hospitals are crowded, but patients still need their regular care, with or without COVID-19 symptoms. Because of this, more and more patients have turned to the best alternative: telemedicine.
Telemedicine companies have received tens of thousands of new patients across the country, and are struggling to keep up with the ever-growing demand for telehealth solutions. Telemedicine is going through a period of enormous growth, and it is no longer just a side option for most people but the best option available.
So what is the future of telemedicine? There are still various obstacles that must be overcome, but with the right pressure and interest, telemedicine can thrive as we now have consumer access to the technologies and software required for telemedicine to be truly effective. In this article, we explain what those obstacles and technologies are, and how telemedicine might look in a few years.
The first examples of telemedicine can be traced back to the 1950s, with doctors offering patients consultations over the phone. The top telemedicine companies that we see today generally began in the early 2000s, but were still crippled by the lack of high-speed internet and technology in most U.S. households.
Telemedicine has been an option for many years, but tradition and stigma against virtual visits has kept people trusting the traditional in-office doctor visits. For most people, much of the digital world still seems unfamiliar, and it is widely believed that something as important as your health should be handled in the real world rather than the virtual.
But the recent coronavirus outbreak across the world has changed things. Millions of people are locked in their homes but still require the advice and aid of a doctor. Telemedicine has become the alternative for most patients.
At a recent summit on innovation held by MassChallenge on the topic of the coronavirus crisis, Vice President of Digital Health Strategy at the American Medical Association, Meg Barron, had this to say about telemedicine:
“If there is any silver lining it's that the [American Medical Association] along with many other organizations have been working for telehealth adoption for some time. Obviously, it is really having its moment right now and [has been] able to step up to keep primary care providers and patients safe on the front lines.”
According to Chief Innovation Officer at Boston Children’s Hospital, John Brownstein,
"We are doing more virtual visits in a given day than we did the entire proceeding year, so things can change. I don't see us going back to the way things were, in a positive way. I think we've opened physicians' eyes, opened up the administrators' eyes, patients are recognizing the value. It has focused our team to deploy this at scale and these kinds of digital practices become core to the practice of medicine going forward."
Telemedicine is definitely the future of healthcare. The questions now are: 1) What are the obstacles in its path; and 2) What technologies will help improve telemedicine moving forward?
There are a few obstacles standing in the way of telemedicine becoming the main system of patient care. These are:
In the near future, major companies such as Amazon and Google will invest heavily in telemedicine growth to be part of the frontrunners of companies offering telehealth services across the country and the world.
We can expect telemedicine healthcare services to be spread across a multitude of private and government-owned service networks, with some for general public access and others with private networks for secure links between patients, doctors, clinics, and hospitals.
The key technologies to help develop the expansion and growth of telemedicine are already available today, and simply need to be pushed into place and usage. These key technologies are:
Tomorrow’s telemedicine services may seem cool and futuristic, but the technologies we use as telemedicine grow will play a crucial part in limiting and controlling future outbreaks that we may face. Developing, adopting, and accepting these new methods of health care services as a culture is not only necessary, but our responsibility to better streamline patient-doctor experiences.
PracticeBloom is the leading agency for healthcare marketing and we are ready to help your telemedicine health systems grow and evolve into the future. Develop your telehealth practices and allow our team of health care marketing experts to find and connect with your ideal audience.
Call or email us today and find out more about how PracticeBloom can make your telemedicine service explode overnight – become the number one virtual care provider in your area today.
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