All new medical technologies work for increasing the speed , availability and accuracy of medical treatment process. It has become important for mankind to quickly receive accurate data about their state of health, to be treated quickly and return to a healthy life. But what about the cardiogram that we cannot read, or the data on the increased blood glucose level, if we don’t know what to do in this case ?! Currently we have no available technologies that would determine the disease according to the symptoms and analyzes, write down a course of treatment and prescription. The last word is always up to doctor. But what if the doctor is not nearby - he has a record for a month or you are far from the medical care point. Here the modern technologies, namely telemedicine software services, can help us!
Medtech has long been one of the leading industries in the venture capital. Every year, tens of billions of dollars are invested in the production of medical equipment, in the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning for diagnostics. For example, the startup Infervision makes it possible to analyze the patient’s lung images in 15-20 seconds and diagnose coronavirus with an accuracy of 96% using a scanner equipped with an AI program.
What is telemedicine software and where is it used so far?
Telemedicine software is a remote medical consultation service. The telemedicine software system is widely used all over the world. Most often - in cardiology, ultrasound, mammology and surgery. The system provides an opportunity to get a doctor’s consultation online via video and audio. And this helps to save both time and money: the cost of online admission is cheaper than an individual live consultation. The main telemedicine software market shares are held by remote hospitals, home patient monitoring systems and mobile health applications.
In European countries, telemedicine software is a familiar concept. There are successful projects in Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Finland, France and Italy. In many countries, telemedicine software also functions in the commercial sector. A striking example is Poland. According to Polish doctors working in the Telemedico service, they can process 8 out of 10 patients' requests for help online.
Another example is the Canadian Ontario Telemedicine project. Ontario Telemedicine has 262 employees. In 2017, they held 747,000 online consultations. Thanks to telemedicine software, Ontario was able to save $67 million. Other provinces are also joining the project.
The demand for telemedicine software is also growing in the USA. According to Mordor Intelligence forecasts, by 2023, the global telemedicine market will grow to almost $90 million. Coronavirus pandemic of 2020 has become a good help for the industry. Restriction on movement of people automatically draws the attention of Internet users to remote services. Therefore, market players say, the telemedicine software segment will grow regardless of the economic downturn. In the United States, according to cio.com, the number of online consultations for a pandemic outbreak has increased 10-15 times. The Trump administration and U.S. public health officials have also urged consumers to use telehealth services to receive remote treatment, prescription and medical care during the coronavirus pandemic. In their turn, companies offering virtual receptions report an increase in demand. The goal is to keep people with symptoms at home and practice social distancing if their condition does not require more intensive inpatient care. About 80% of hospitals in the USA have some kind of telemedicine service and this is a fact.
By the way, telemedicine software projects can be found not only in developed Europe, Canada, USA, China or Japan, but also in different variations in India, Egypt, Zambia, Madagascar, Peru, Congo, Burundi, West Africa, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Kuwait. Obviously, the industry will only grow further as an examples of its benefits were painfully clear.
Who is benefiting from the situation right now?
The main players in the telemedicine software market can be divided into four categories. In this article, we will consider examples from the United States, as the most advanced region in this regard. So, first of all, these are large networks of clinics (Mayo, Kaiser Permanente) that introduce telemedicine software to increase their effectiveness and reduce costs. Secondly, these are large insurance companies (UnitedHealth, Anthem, Aetna, Cigna), which saw in telemedicine software a way to reduce their costs for customers. Thirdly, Internet services specializing in telemedicine software (Teladoc, MDLive, Amwell, Doctor on demand). And finally, large pharmacy chains (Walgreens), which consider telemedicine software as an opportunity to participate in the growing US healthcare market.
The pandemic of 2020 provoked a real boom in the activity of these services. For uninsured, for example, many telemedicine applications offer inexpensive doctor visits, which may be an acceptable option. These applications include Amwell, HeyDoctor from GoodRx, and PlushCare. PlushCare costs $99 for the first visit and $49 for each subsequent visit. Each visit to an Amwell doctor costs $69. As telemedicine software services attempt to meet the requirements of a wider healthcare system, many of these applications report growth. PlushCare reports that the number of appointments has increased by 70%; Amwell has confirmed that since the beginning of 2020, application use has increased by 158% nationwide and increased by 650% in the state of Washington.
According to a survey by J.D. Power, conducted in July 2019, prior to the beginning of 2020, only 1 out of 10 patients in the United States used telemedicine software. As part of citywide social distance measures, new patients also subscribe to telemedicine software applications for different reasons. At the same time, not all services were ready for a sudden influx of customers. Teladoc, included as a service in insurance plans by companies such as Blue Shield of California, reported the visits to the app have increased by 50% and that patients are waiting longer to contact a specialist.
What are the benefits of telemedicine software?
1. Allows to unload hospitals
According to experts, 70% of patients may not go to clinics at all. Most of the issues are easier to solve remotely, typically, one consultation is enough, so on days when traditional medicine is struggling, virtual medicine can relieve this stream of calls.
2. Minimizes risk to doctors
At the times when it is better to minimize all contacts, it is especially important to be able to find a qualified doctor without leaving home and get an online consultation. This will benefit both patients and doctors.
3. Provides timely care to patients at home
If the patient worsens, doctors can quickly respond. Special telemedicine equipment can collect and transfer the patient’s medical data from his home to a remote telemedicine center for further processing by specialists. This is important, for example, for patients with heart failure who need regular and frequent examinations. This is ensured by complexes that include sensors that measure body temperature, blood pressure, oxygen partial pressure, ECG, and respiratory functions. They are connected to a desktop monitor, which, in turn, automatically sends data to the telemedicine center.
4. Minimizes self-medication risks
Compulsory hospitalization is required for patients with a severe clinical issues. However, the disease may be asymptomatic or mild. For the unloading of hospitals already mentioned above, patients may be sent home for treatment after a mandatory examination. In the future, their condition can be monitored using services.
5. Allows isolating risk groups from potentially dangerous places of infection
For some population groups, the risk of catching some virus is of particular danger. Telemedicine software services can isolate them from the spread of infection and thereby protect them from risks.
It is obvious that remote development of medical services will only accelerate. Recently, EU Commissioner for the Digital Economy Maria Gabriel reiterated the importance of collaboration between the IT sector and health. Earlier, she proposed creating a safe system of electronic access for citizens to their medical files in all EU countries. In her opinion, in this way Europeans will be able to receive more effective and urgent assistance in the territory of all EU member states, especially in emergency situations, where every minute is precious. Such statements are a great motivator to start developing such a solution as quickly as possible!