With the rise of mobile technology and online communication, a relatively new method of care delivery is on the upswing — telemedicine. Global Market Insights reports that the telemedicine market is expected to flourish and hit $64 billion by 2025, indicating that more and more patients are relying on telemedicine platforms today, especially in more rural and inner-city communities as we’ve previously mentioned in ‘Rural Patients Taking Advantage of Telemedicine’. A big reason for this could be due to the shortage of primary care physicians, which Maryville University estimates to reach a minimum of 100,000 by 2025. With such a devastating lack of professional healthcare in many areas, having access to them through technology, which is quickly becoming more widespread, could help patients across the country. However, with telemedicine platforms still being so new and fresh, what kind of factors should we be mindful of? We're here to answer that by outlining what exactly telemedicine is, and what we, as patients, should expect from modern telemedicine platforms.
Telemedicine, or virtual health as Business Insider calls it, allows patients to have conversations with healthcare professionals remotely – saving time for both the physician and the patient. Telemedicine involves the use of electronic communications to provide clinical services to patients without an in-person visit.
Convenience, speed, and reliability.
The allure behind telemedicine platforms is their ability to provide fast, convenient and accessible care for patients. That’s why patients should expect a platform that is easy to access with the minimum possible steps needed to connect to their healthcare provider. Even with the growing population getting more comfortable with using computer-based communication, telemedicine platforms should still provide a simple process for patients to get the care they need from any location. Lastly, telemedicine platforms should be reliable, meaning patients should be able to connect to them every time they try, save for internet connection problems.
Consumer-grade video conferencing applications such as Facetime or Skype are not encrypted or secure. As such, they are not compliant video conferencing solutions under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). This is important because all telemedicine platforms should be HIPAA-compliant in order to ensure patient confidentiality is not compromised. That said, patients should check whether or not the telemedicine platform they’re considering meets all the minimum standards for HIPAA.
Flexible hardware requirements
You shouldn’t have to buy a whole new device to use telemedicine platforms. Patients should be able to run their desired telemedicine platform on any device that can connect to the internet, has a microphone, and a front-facing camera. In other words, you should be able to connect to your doctor through the telemedicine platform from your computer, tablet, or phone.
No matter how easy to use telemedicine platforms can be, there will no doubt be some questions from time to time as it is a relatively new concept for some regions. Thus, patients should expect telemedicine platforms to have real-time, in-app support available where possible. This is essential as healthcare is highly dependent on technology, but it’s also worth noting if a problem is technical, such as the internet connection, the microphone, or whether there are camera issues.
Exclusively written by Ella Jones for Doxy.me