Telemedicine means using electronic modes to provide clinical services to patients without an in-person visit. The comfort of face-to-face interaction is not there. This technology has long been waiting for a booster shot.
The COVID-19 pandemic has unlocked this new mode of care delivery almost overnight. During this period, we are seeing how this virtual visit to a doctor i.e. telemedicine is saving time and money. Telemedicine has been the choice in the outbreak as it is helping isolated patients. Quarantined patients are being monitored, chronic illnesses are being treated and expert consultation with other healthcare workers is being provided. Many patients who earlier feared to go to a healthcare provider, have now switched to telehealth and telemedicine.
As shown in the figure, in the past, there had been many barriers to the adoption of Telemedicine. Now when the world is getting the sweet fruits from this technology, it will soon adopt this patient engagement and treatment model in routine practice. Realising the growing need for such a model, many rules and regulations have been relaxed for now. Healthcare workers are being reshaped and the care delivery model henceforth is bound to change.
Furthermore, a proper internet connection is needed for a telemedicine service. With advances in technology such as 5G, this challenge may be met with. 5G technology offers much lower latency and much faster data transmission. The physicians have already started embracing this technology when the physical examination is not needed every time. But the Remote Monitoring devices are an added advantage. Patients are demanding for user-friendly point of care medical devices. Devices in high demand would be those which are able to monitor the basic vitals such as Blood Sugar, Blood Pressure, SpO2 and maybe even ECG! Consumer medical-grade health monitoring solutions such as TytoCare that enable remote examination need to be in the market soon. A device such as for transmission of heart and lung sounds and throat examination will enable an easy and accurate remote diagnosis.
At this time interoperability of electronic health records (EHR/EMR) with various Telemedicine platforms are needed. Besides, Cybersecurity would be a critical element.
If telemedicine is successful in solving existing shortcomings in the healthcare industry, we could see an acceleration of telemedicine-related regulations. This could help drive adoption of the technology soon. The healthcare providers will soon be on the lookout for options to adapt it to their practice workflow.