The onset of the COVID-19 hugely changed human interactions and service delivery. As a response to social distancing and in-person contact guidelines, the healthcare industry adopted ways to continue offering medical services. This resulted in an explosion in the popularity of telemedicine.
However, the effects of the pandemic are slowly wearing out, and many parts of the world are going back to near-normal practices. Can healthcare now go back to how it used to be––abandoning the virtual medical practice altogether? That is highly unlikely. Telemedicine has proven to have other benefits that have nothing or little to do with the pandemic. (1)
Since the telemedicine trend is likely to continue to grow for years to come, this article looks at why this is the best time to build a telemedicine business.
Patients have warmed up to telemedicine
Since the ground has already been set, as well as the system tried, tested, and proven to work, this is good timing for starting a telemedicine business. With careful implementation, telemedicine offers a lot of convenience to patients, something they may not want to lose.
Telemedicine is the same healthcare service but without all the issues related to visiting a medical facility. While telemedicine works for only some health issues, many consider it an excellent alternative when it’s an option. (2)
Also, telemedicine fits perfectly with the rise of demand-driven healthcare. Patients want to be more in charge of who and where they get treated. COVID-19 may have hastened telemedicine, but the trend has exposed its many other benefits. This makes it a preferred option by many patients. (3)
These benefits include the following:
- Increased access to healthcare: Since patients don’t need to travel, consulting professionals outside their regions is possible. Also, patients with mobility issues, contagious illnesses, no childcare, or support can access healthcare from the comfort of their homes.
- Saving time and money: Patients can save on gas costs, parking expenses, and time traveling and waiting in queues.
- It’s suitable for mental health patients: Telemedicine benefits patients with mental health issues who may be reluctant to visit a facility because of stigma or anxiety.
Healthcare providers find it efficient
Many healthcare providers employed telemedicine out of necessity to respond to social distancing guidelines. Now, they find it efficient and may be unwilling to give it up even as services start to open up with in-person contact services returning. From the provider’s point of view, virtual healthcare services make practice more efficient.
Because of improved efficiency, there are lowered costs of operation, boosting revenue. This may be motivation enough to keep telemedicine even when it’s no longer a necessity. Instead of having telemedicine as a response to a crisis, it may stay in the long term as an alternative for anyone who needs it. (2) However, it’s not just a case of cutting costs. It’s also an excellent choice for consultations that don’t need physical examinations.
Patients and providers are on the same page, making an ideal time to start a telemedicine business. The providers and the patients create a good market. If you want to build a telemedicine business, all you may need is a good marketing strategy.
Technology is enabling telemedicine
The technology needed by providers and patients for telemedicine to work isn’t complicated. For most services, what’s required is a computer, tablet, or phone and an internet connection. This is something that most medical facilities and homes already have. However, the technology that’s lying ahead in telemedicine may be even more powerful.
Here are some of the technologies that may help improve telemedicine from what it is today:
- Artificial intelligence and machine learning: There’s a lot of data collection in healthcare than it has ever been in the past. These two technologies have great potential in helping to analyze the data and give better health insights and outcomes.
The technologies may help in the diagnosis and assessment of illnesses, improving healthcare in general. This boosts telehealth services as patient data isn’t restricted to what’s collected in physical locations alone. (4)
- Extended reality: This technology combines real and virtual worlds with machine and human interactions through computer technology and devices. Sensors and wearables can collect and send information such as heart rate and electrocardiogram (ECG) to healthcare professionals in real-time.
There may be tech advancements that’ll enable providers to get patient data on oxygen and temperature in the future. Other technologies like augmented reality enhance the real world through digital elements and may be helpful for patients who want to experience a hospital setting without leaving home.
These technologies and others create a suitable environment for the telemedicine business to thrive by making it more viable. This will significantly enhance the way a practitioner reads, diagnoses, and treats patient symptoms. You can leverage these technologies to make your telemedicine business stand out and to make it more competitive. (1)
Telemedicine may solve some long-term effects of COVID-19
Issues of social distancing and minimal physical contact are the most apparent effects of the pandemic. They were the leading accelerators of most telehealth implementations by medical practitioners. However, some other effects like the fear of spreading contagious illnesses will remain.
Another long-term effect of COVID-19 that telemedicine may deal with more effectively is the rising need for mental health services. The trauma the pandemic caused resulting from death, job, and financial losses may not go away soon. This continues to increase the demand for mental health services where health practitioners can reach the patients conveniently.
COVID-19 isn’t a disaster like any other with an anticipated end date. The same way it accelerated telehealth practice may be the same way it may keep it going for many years to come.
Telemedicine offers numerous benefits for patients and health providers alike. That alone plays a huge role in the future of medical services, particularly virtual medical services. Maybe you’ve been battling whether or not it’s still an excellent time to get started in the telemedicine business. Hopefully, the above settles it for you. From the state of things, telemedicine may be here to stay, and the business space is still not yet too crowded. Therefore, an excellent business to venture into now and in the future.
- “Telehealth is here to stay” https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-021-01447-x
- “Patients, doctors like telehealth. Here’s what should come next.” https://www.ama-assn.org/practice-management/digital/patients-doctors-telehealth-here-s-what-should-come-next
- “Predicting the Future Role of Telemedicine” https://www.modernhealthcare.com/technology/predicting-future-role-telemedicine
- “Telemedicine Technology Powered by AI and IoT” https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/healthcare-it/telemedicine.html