Healthcare has always been one of the first to adopt cutting-edge technologies to save lives and deliver enhanced patient experiences. As eHealth solutions evolve, you can expect them to disrupt and revolutionize modern medicine.
From remote consultations to telemedicine solutions that leverage the power of the Internet of Things, here are a few telehealth trends we should know about in 2019.
1. The Telehealth Market Will Grow Exponentially
Over the next six years, the telemedicine market is predicted to explode and grow significantly across the globe. According to a recent study conducted by Global Market Insights, the telehealth market is expected to grow from its current $38.3 billion to $130.5 billion by 2025.
That’s at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19.2%. Telemedicine will be driven by global telecommunication network developments (like 5G), continued integration of healthcare and IT market sectors, and emerging market opportunities in rural areas.
Here the breakdown:
- The telemedicine market in the US alone will be worth $64.1 billion by 2025
- The teleconsultations services market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 18.9%
- The telehospital market will be worth $85.3 billion by the end of 2025
However, the rapid growth of telehealth won’t be universal. This can be attributed to the lack of awareness in emerging economies and inconsistent reimbursement for telemedicine services.
At the same time, research suggests that the telehealth market is growing faster than anticipated. This is good news as the industry can now provide increased access to care, offer patients more choice, and reduce care costs.
2. Specialized Care Will Be Accessible in Isolated and Extreme Environments
The digital age has been driven by data. All this information can be leveraged with the support of experts via telehealth protocols to provide quality care. This means that you can receive specialized care even if you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere.
An excellent example of this is Dr. Cathryn O'Sullivan’s experience in a remote Australian Antartica base. In this scenario, she was involved in a minor accident more than 2,100 miles away from civilization.
As it was in the middle of winter, the evacuation wasn’t an option. According to Dr. O’Sullivan, "in the real world, it wouldn't have been a drama, but I broke a bone in my hand, and unfortunately the type of fracture it was, it was quite out of place and it needed to be put back into place."
The care she needed was provided by a few tradesmen onboard who had some basic medical training. Healthcare professionals were also watching the procedure and monitoring her vitals remotely.
First, they injected an anesthetic into her wrist to numb the hand. Next, they were able to put the bone back in place, plaster it up, and took x-rays that were examined in real-time back in Australia.
This example demonstrates that telemedicine really works. It can deliver care successfully even in the most remote and dire situations.
3. Video Telemedicine Market Will Grow
One of the primary drivers of telehealth is video telemedicine. According to MarketWatch, the global video telemedicine market was valued at $0.92 billion in 2017. By 2026, it’s forecasted to be worth a staggering $4.14 billion (growing at a CAGR of 18.2%).
The rapid rise of video telehealth can be attributed to the following:
- Technological advancements
- Growing geriatric population
- Increasing demand of patients residing in remote locations
Video telemedicine doesn’t have to be limited to patient care. This technology can also be leveraged to boost communication and collaboration among healthcare professionals through video conferencing.
4. TelePsychiatry Will Play a Critical Role in Patient Care
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services currently designates about 5,042 Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) in which 123 million Americans live. As a result, only approximately 32.52% of their healthcare needs are being met.
To remove the HPSA designation, it would require more than 5,096 mental health professionals in these areas. With the rapidly growing opioid epidemic, this issue has been exasperated and is at risk of getting out of control.
In the months to come, telehealth can be part of a solution that delivers quality mental health services in these underserved areas. At present, TelePsychiatric programs only make up a fraction of telehealth offerings, but this expected to change.
As remote work and digital workspaces become the norm, telehealth promises to be a viable patient care option in a digitally transformed world. While it has its place in smart cities, the most significant impact will be felt in rural areas and places with the substantially aging population.