Telemedicine is the new normal in the health care industry

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Telemedicine is a broad definition of a practice that allows medical practitioners to provide healthcare support to their clients using audio and video technology. We also use telehealth and virtual care to discuss non-clinical services offered in this area.

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Telemedicine is revolutionizing healthcare delivery in the United States and many developed countries. The convenience, cost-effectiveness, and personalized nature of this health care option make it viable and, in some cases, the preferred option for many patients who require medical assistance, but have access to physicians or practitioners within their geographic boundaries. difficulty in.

If supported in most health care settings, telemedicine can dramatically improve access to medical care and the efficiency of medical visits so that physicians and clinicians can attend to more patients in need.

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RELATED: Why Telemedicine Is the Future of Healthcare

The health industry faces many harsh realities as the United States searches for a way out of the global health crisis. These include overcrowded medical facilities, fewer healthcare workers and physicians, increased operating and service delivery costs and higher risks for vulnerable members of the population who may be exposed to other diseases with prolonged presence in healthcare facilities.

Recent data compiled by the US Department of Health and Human Services showed that there has been a dramatic increase in the demand for and use of telemedicine during and after the global health crisis.

Pros and cons of telemedicine

Telemedicine and telehealth have many benefits, including the following:

Improved access to physicians and general practitioners Reduction in physician burnout Decreased in-person waiting times due to the ability to triage and pre-assess patients when a hospital visit is required. Staying at home (patient and provider) cost and time savings

In addition to the above benefits, telemedicine and telehealth naturally come with their own challenges.

Some of these include:

Virtual counseling requires access to technology, and the digital divide between those who have and cannot limit access to vulnerable members of society. difficult diagnosis. Virtual diagnosis can challenge physicians and clinicians to provide an accurate diagnosis if they cannot perform a complete assessment themselves and must rely on the patient to provide accurate or complete information. It may not be a good substitute for individualized care for more serious medical conditions. Lack of insurance coverage for telemedicine services. Policy and legal restrictions limit how care is provided and in what settings.

The benefits seem to outweigh the challenges. This may explain why the demand for and use of these services has increased dramatically.

Prior to 2020, telemedicine was showing steady growth in the hospital setting. According to a fact sheet released in February 2019 by the American Hospital Association, “76 percent of US hospitals connect with patients and counselors at some distance through video and other technology.”

Significant increase in demand for behavioral services

Since that time, recent figures from the Department of Health and Human Services show a “63-fold increase” in telemedicine use during 2020. From about 840,000 patients in 2019 to about 52.7 million in 2020.

This growth reflects the increasing awareness and availability of telemedicine services. While this growth has been significant, the most notable growth has been in behavioral health services.

The data showed that telehealth was most prevalent among behavioral health specialists.

“Visits to behavioral health specialists showed the largest increase in telehealth in 2020. Telehealth comprised a third of total visits to behavioral health specialists.”

With this knowledge, businesses, insurance companies and organizations can use this data to support their customers, workers and patients by customizing service options to meet their unique needs. Ensuring that policies are created or modified to meet this demand can further enable these stakeholders to benefit from this growing trend. This will further help them to add value to their patients/clients.

Wider access to racial minorities and rural patients

One of the challenges of telemedicine use is the clear digital divide that places some groups at a disadvantage over others. For example, a statistic from the Medicare Telehealth Report suggests that black people were the least likely to use telehealth services.

With diversity and inclusion in many conversations in the healthcare industry and workplaces, removing systemic and technological barriers can help improve the overall participation of this group.

As far as rural users are concerned, broadband services and limited access to physicians hinder the ability to fully participate in telemedicine. Therefore, when creating or modifying policies, insurers, companies, Medicare and Medicaid providers must consider these limits to improve their participation.

RELATED: The Future of Healthcare Is in the Cloud

the future is hybrid

The global telemedicine market generated $40.20 billion in 2020 and is projected to reach $431.82 billion by 2030, registering a CAGR of 25.9% from 2021 to 2030

All stakeholders in the industry must be prepared to see challenges and opportunities to innovate and create policies, systems and processes to meet this demand.

A hybrid service delivery model combining in-person delivery with digital care will be most effective in mitigating some of the challenges and maximizing the benefits.

Policy changes supporting telemedicine

Policy changes through Medicare, Medicaid and insurance are being used to drive wider access and change rules that would otherwise restrict who can participate in telemedicine.

There are many legal and policy considerations to include. Some of these include protecting the integrity of the health system by monitoring and monitoring the licensing of professionals, prescribing online, privacy and security concerns, and combating fraud and abuse.

The global health crisis forced policymakers to waive existing Medicare and Medicaid rules to help patients get the support they need most.

Looking ahead, the growth in the telemedicine industry is phenomenal. It has the potential to significantly improve patient care and positively change the course of the healthcare sector, provided all stakeholders seize the opportunity.

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