Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, access to healthcare shifted to remote channels. This was necessary as the demand for medical services surpassed the existing resources, making in-person consultations impractical. In the initial four months of the pandemic, telemedicine rose to 23.6% of all healthcare interactions, compared to a mere 0.3% in 2023.
Telemedicine is expected to continue in the long term, particularly since COVID-19 is anticipated to become endemic by 2024.
Initially, it was believed that the need for remote healthcare services would have decreased by this point. Nevertheless, we have observed an unceasing growth in demand, which has compelled healthcare providers to make significant changes in delivering remote care to patients. While physicians are partly accountable for this, software developers and IT departments also play a crucial role.
The provision of remote healthcare services hinges on the availability of proper software and services. Therefore, businesses may need to outsource their development to stay relevant. What other measures should be implemented in the coming year to establish remote healthcare as a routine practice, aside from having qualified staff to develop the required solutions?
Let’s take a look.
Group Video Conferencing
Thanks to technologies that adhere to HIPAA/PIPEDA regulations, including Zoom, one-on-one telehealth consultations between physicians and patients are gaining popularity. However, what if there is a need for group meetings? Considering the possibility of a decline in society’s resilience to psychological stress during the ongoing pandemic, it is probable that this sector will see rapid expansion in 2023.
In the upcoming months and years, group video conferencing will considerably improve the efficacy of mental healthcare. As an increasing number of individuals feel hesitant or unable to participate in in-person consultations, telehealth will serve as a more accessible means to receiving counselling and therapy.
One of the most significant challenges that healthcare institutions encounter in implementing group video conferencing is ensuring that all patients can join the session in a secure environment. The utilization of mobile devices, as mentioned in this article, could potentially result in a patient participating in an open space, which conflicts with HIPAA regulations. Therefore, it is crucial to adhere to the law at all times.
Currently, patients have to acquaint themselves with a multitude of systems, which poses a significant challenge. This ought to change. In order to satisfy the increasing demand for remote healthcare and provide better user experience, multiple systems should be amalgamated into a single, central platform.
It’s crucial that patients are not obliged to employ various systems for different elements of a remote session, such as sign-in, insurance, compliance, and the session itself. Unless these features are integrated into a single system, telehealth will be insufficient in meeting the current demands.
Developers will bear substantial responsibility to guarantee that all systems are compatible and fulfill the HIPAA compliance standards. Cloud computing may be necessary to achieve this.
Elderly Individuals with Weakened Immune Systems Need to Transition to an Online System Immediately
Seniors and individuals with weakened immune systems are expected to be the primary users of remote healthcare services in the upcoming year. This is because these groups are at a greater risk of spreading infection if they engage in face-to-face contact. Therefore, it is probable that these demographics will be the initial adopters of remote healthcare services.
Both groups may potentially choose to make telemedicine their primary healthcare provider. This would not only improve healthcare services but also reduce the frequency of in-person visits required. Additionally, hospitals and other organizations may need to contemplate hiring telemedicine experts.
Remote Patient Monitoring through Technology
Telemedicine and remote patient monitoring offer tremendous potential for expansion. Through wearable technology, in-person medical appointments could be reduced, and telehealth services could be strengthened, enabling physicians to efficiently monitor their patients from afar.
With the ability to monitor vital signs and gather patient data, wearables have brought us to the forefront of modern technology. The trend of tracking contact via devices like smartwatches and mobile phones is expected to gain momentum, especially with the emergence of new variants of COVID-19.
The Necessity of AI and the Internet of Things
Wearable technology and AI/IoT will be indispensable in compiling and assessing significant data. Consider an AI-powered IoT system installed in a home that can interpret data transceived from a wearable and take appropriate action. Upon activation, an Internet of Things device may instigate a remote healthcare consultation.
In order for remote healthcare to become an efficient and reliable solution for increasing demand, this is the direction it must take in the coming year.
Expansion of Telehealth Usage within Specific Demographics
One of the primary hurdles in telehealth adoption is the varying levels of usage amongst younger, older, and wealthier populations. Those who are socially and economically disadvantaged are unable to take advantage of it. If telehealth is to be implemented on a larger scale, it is crucial to allot ample resources to ensure that underserved populations have equal access to it.
To achieve this, it is not only necessary to raise awareness of the alternative but also to design systems that operate smoothly in areas with restricted bandwidth.
With the demand for remote medical facilities projected to soar in the approaching years, healthcare providers must be nimble enough to adjust to the fluctuating market and pertinent regulations. Although it may pose a challenge, the larger community will reap significant rewards if service providers can make remote medical services more accessible, trustworthy, and user-friendly.