Telemedicine is continuing to transform the world of health care with every passing year. Patients are able to easily connect with physicians or specialists through the use of video or online chats and can access more effective treatment plans by using technology to transfer their records and medical data. There are several changes that will take place in the next 12 months and are likely to have a positive effect on both patients and medical professionals. Here’s a look at some of the telemedicine trends that will occur over the next year.
Increase in people who use telemedicine
Telemedicine is a quickly growing field and has been making great strides for the last several decades. As more doctors, hospitals, and health care providers begin to use telehealth platforms, those numbers will only continue to grow in 2019. According to a recent report, around 7 million patients used telehealth measures in the U.S. in 2018. That’s up from 350,000 patients in 2013 – which is actually a 19,000% increase in just five years. This number is only expected to grow in the future as more people use telehealth services for various medical needs (from managing a chronic condition to consulting a physician about an injury).
More access to specialists
As telemedicine measures are used by more people, there will be increased access to physicians and specialists. Regardless of where they live, people can connect with medical professionals to help with diagnoses or treatment plans. More and more doctors using telemedicine means that the network will continue to broaden. This means that patients could even seek help from physicians internationally, ensuring that they’re always getting the best care regardless of their location. More access will lead to a wider knowledge base (especially with chronic or rare conditions) that can only benefit patient care in the future.
Better remote services
An increasing number of health care companies are expanding their remote services in a variety of fields, including dermatology, mental health, addiction treatment, stroke care, and many others. These services, which can be conducted without patients having to make in-person visits, can be cost-saving and can increase the chances a patient will have of receiving timely care. Currently, more than half the hospitals in the U.S. offer some type of telehealth options for their patients.
Remote services also allow for shorter wait times at doctor’s office waiting rooms and emergency rooms (since patients with non-life-threatening cases can connect with a physician remotely via a video chat). In fact, according to statistics from the American Medical Association and Wellness Council of America, more than 75% of doctor, urgent care, or ER visits could be handled effectively through a phone or video chat.
Increased ability to share records
As a larger number of companies are relying on technology to improve their patient care, telemedicine is helping by allowing medical professionals to more easily and efficiently share records and test results with colleagues and specialists, regardless of distance. Patients then receive better care because it’s so easy for information to be shared within a treatment team or if the patient is transferring to another physician. Improvements in telehealth technology also mean that patients have more convenient access to their own medical records and test results online.
More telemedicine coverage from insurance companies
In the last several years, more than 29 states have already required health insurance coverage for patients who were using telemedicine. In 2015, more than 25 states mandated that patients had to be reimbursed for services from telemedicine. More telehealth measures face Congress every year for even more coverage throughout the U.S. Right now, all Medicaid agencies cover at least some form of telehealth services. There’s also been an increase in employers offering telemedicine options. Since insurance companies are quickly learning that telemedicine can save them money, it will surely only be a matter of time before these options are fully covered in all 50 states, for a variety of treatment services.
The more the public (and the government) is able to see the vast improvements in health care due to telemedicine, the more widespread the practice will be. A larger number of doctors and hospitals will rely on telemedicine to provide care, and it will be more common for people to use telemedicine options instead of visiting a physician or hospital in person. In the future, it’s likely that telemedicine will become an even more accepted and valued element of health care, becoming something that most people will depend upon when getting treatment. Patients are already all for using telemedicine – a recent study showed that more than 74% of people would be open to treatment through this method.
As a growing trend in health care, telemedicine will soon be more accepted and widely used in the future. As patients look for more accessible and convenient health care options, telemedicine is perhaps the best answer for better care and treatment.