Although it sounds like a relatively new phenomenon, telemedicine has been around in some form or another since the invention of the telephone. The focal idea behind the movement, since its inception, has been to provide patients living in rural areas, or patients that are physically incapacitated, with access to top-level healthcare via the medium of telecommunications. While it was implemented successfully in decades previous, telemedicine was regarded as a fringe service, with the main bulk of patients opting to visit their doctor in person. However, the relentless progression of digital technology has made the service more relevant than ever, with telemedicine poised to become a major force in the future of the healthcare industry.
The smartphone is the main herald of this technological advancement, and has cemented itself as a necessity for modern day living. We do most of everything on our phones these days, from hailing a taxi to checking the weather. GPS co-ordination is a perfect example of how dependent we’ve become on having instantaneous access to this progressive technology; can you imagine going to meet a friend at a new bar or coffee shop and not being able to whip out your phone and check where it is? It seems crazy to operate in 2017 without the aid of Google Maps, and as future generations become more and more integrated with digital technology, this reliance will only become more pervasive.
Apps have revolutionized many different aspects of our lives, in many beneficial ways. There are apps to take seriously and apps to pass the time; each sector has its big hitters. One of the most positive places they’ve had an effect is the arena of telemedicine, where they are being integrated to the healthcare system in increasingly important ways. No matter where you are in the world, as long as you have a smartphone, you have access to a doctor. Imagine you’re out hiking in the wilds and get bitten by a suspicious looking insect; you don’t know what breed it is, and are worried the bite might be dangerous. You can simply open your smartphone and be chatting with a real doctor in mere minutes. Or imagine you’re snowbound for a few days and a member of your family is developing worrying symptoms; in days past, you’d have to wait until you had access to a physical doctor. These days, you can see one through your smartphone or tablet.
Doctors can even prescribe medication over the internet, through telemedicine apps. Take medical marijuana for instance, a previously controversial treatment which is now gaining legal traction in the U.S., having been legalized in twenty nine states so far; you can simply log on to a site such as MMJ Recs and get outfitted with a medical marijuana identification card, so you can start availing of the medicine for your specific condition. The possibilities of telemedicine are endless, and will only keep growing as technology progresses to accommodate them.
There are a lot of benefits to consider around telemedicine, and even more in the competitive app arena. Firstly, they make healthcare extremely convenient for everyone, no matter where you live. Previously, people who lived in rural areas or who were incapacitated had to travel miles to see their primary care physician, and probably even further to see a local specialist. Telemedicine removes the distance barrier, and ensures everyone has equal access to healthcare. Secondly, it’s reducing health costs across the board, on both sides of the line. Everyone knows the medical industry is an expensive game, but telemedicine is reducing costs for the patients and doctors, by allowing consultations to take less time. This frees up the doctor’s day, and also allows them to charge less to their patients, as well as negate any travel costs.
Another striking benefit comes from the app model itself. There are millions of apps out there that do so many different things, but competition in each sector is fierce. Healthcare apps are no different; thousands of them battle it out on the App Store and Google Play for browsers’ attention and ultimately downloads. This has a leveling effect, introducing competition to a sector which generally isn’t renowned for it, equaling better results at a lower cost for patients. As it stands, telemedicine is on the cusp of becoming a huge revolution in the healthcare industry, a revolution which is sure to happen in the next couple of years. It’s undoubtedly going to be a positive force in people’s lives, producing better results at a fast pace for a lower cost. All in all, apps are a perfect fit for telemedicine, and provide a fertile soil for its future growth. As digital technology is integrated more and more into our daily lives, telemedicine is set to become a regularity for residents all across the US.