In many ways, healthcare is suffering the supply-demand problem. Rural areas in many countries face a lack of qualified medical care providers. On the other hand, the cost of quality healthcare can sometimes prevent people from obtaining proper medical services.
The appearance and growing popularity of telemedicine are very likely to change the current healthcare situation on a global scale. Providing professional medical services remotely via communication channels makes healthcare available and affordable for the social groups that used to struggle with geographic and financial problems whenever they needed doctor’s assistance.
The market recognizes the importance and disruptive capacity of telemedicine and responds accordingly. The current trends show an increase in the volumes of healthcare-related solutions production, and analysts predict the telehealth market growth rate at almost 19% per year by 2022.
Basically, telehealth allows doctors to consult and examine patients with the help of communication technology. Today, telehealth exists in the following formats:
- Real-time doctor-patient sessions in the form of audio or video calls or live chats
- Patient monitoring with the help of connected devices transmitting real-time data on the patient’s vitals (blood pressure, heart rate, blood sugar or oxygen level, etc.)
- Patient record management with uploading and exchanging of test results, X-ray and CAT scans, doctor’s opinions, drug prescriptions, etc.
Telemedicine use cases
Today, telemedicine exists both in the form of healthcare proper, when medical services are provided over communication channels, and in the form of telepharmacy dealing with remote drug management.
Telehealth use cases
Telehealth for stroke treatment
In the event of a stroke, it is critical to apply the necessary treatment within the shortest time possible to prevent major brain damage. When a person suffers a stroke at a distant site, the time needed to transport them to a clinic with qualified medical personnel may be too long to reverse the processes that have begun.
With a stroke, the hope of full recovery exists mostly when the proper treatment aimed at dissolving the blood clots is administered within 24 hours of the stroke, the earlier the better. A communication channel can be established within minutes, and qualified neurologists can examine the patient via video and instruct and consult the medical personnel onsite on the proper procedures.
In addition to the most common challenges that telemedicine is intended to resolve – the distance between the patient and a specialized clinic, the cost of personal visits, the lack of qualified doctors – psychiatry has other issues. The main one is the social stigma that is still associated with mental conditions and sometimes prevents patients from visiting psychiatric clinics.
For such patients, telepsychiatry is a perfect solution. Being able to get an expert consultation from the comfort of their home can have a beneficial effect on the patient’s mental condition, while the stress of a personal visit can worsen it. Besides, psychiatry involves almost no physical contact between the doctor and the patient, thus the telehealth technology suits it entirely.
Telepharmacy use cases
Remote prescription review
When there is no pharmacist is a local hospital, such functions can be performed remotely over a communication channel. Whenever a medication is prescribed to a patient, the prescription details are forwarded to a remote pharmacist who checks the prescriptions for validity and eligibility, reviews the patient’s records to verify that there are no contraindications or interactions with other drugs, and authorizes the prescription.
Remote patient consulting
Pharmacists not only dispense drugs but also consult patients on using them and dealing with possible issues. Such consultations can be set up in the format of an audio or video session during which the pharmacist can explain the specifics of drug usage to the patient, demonstrate any related techniques and answer the patient’s questions.
With telemedicine, patients can have a 24/7 communication channel with their pharmacist to receive both ordinary and urgent advice on their medication.
Telemedicine is just picking up speed, but its advantages are already obvious. Sometimes, it can become a life-saver in the most literal sense. The fact that clinics and doctors are gladly adopting telemedicine is a great sign of the general improvement of the healthcare system and its becoming available to all social groups.
At the same time, the implementation and popularization of telemedicine raise the ever-present issues of security and compliance. Healthcare is too sensitive an industry to neglect security measures and government regulations. Hence, we recommend that clinics and practitioners wishing to embrace telemedicine engage professional developers experienced in building such products. This way, the effectiveness, security, and compliance of the telemedicine solution will be at the required level.