Healthcare has been in the process of going through changes that will continue throughout 2018 and beyond; one of the healthcare delivery methods that looks promising has to do with telehealth. Reasons for this includes a shifting economic landscape, changes going on within the industry of healthcare and friendlier legislation. There are several technologies that will make telehealth even better for 2018; yet, it is important to understand what this references before going into how it will improve.
What is Telehealth?
Before discussing how telehealth will improve, it is important to first understand what this refers to. Telehealth encompasses a variety of broad tactics and technologies that delivers education services, virtual medical and health. While it isn’t a specific service, it is a collection of means to deliver education and enhance care
Writer Evan Wade wrote last month about how telehealth has had a positive impact on healthcare and that it is positioned to become even better due to the assistance of several technologies. Analysts are predicting this industry will be valued at $36 billion by the year 2020, while expecting that it will continue to grow beyond that.
The technologies that are making this possible are considered to be relatively simple as telecommunications with other fields in technology are able to make great strides daily. Since every advancement works in the best interest of telehealth, let’s look at some of these simplistic technologies that will transform telehealth to become even better.
Another Smartphone Revolution Will Occur
Currently, those who have a gadget in their pocket or on their desk is an advance in technology that can be credited directly towards the current success of telehealth. Current estimates show that nearly thirty percent of the population of the world right now takes with them a smartphone and this statistic is predicted to grow by 2020 seven percent. Roughly sixty-eight percent as of 2015 of adults who are American take with them one of these devices.
Considering the large amount of people, many of these patients would be home-bound and live in rural areas. Since these patients are classified as those most affected by the shortage of physicians, they seem likely to benefit from having access with services provided by telemedicine. Something to keep in mind is that cellular data service is usually accessible where wireless internet and landline data isn’t; this further adds to the medium’s accessibility and portability.
Sensors are Appearing Everywhere
While mobile devices that have internet capabilities and smartphones are a big factor to the success of telehealth, the continuous popularity regarding the internet of things and gadgets will take this market to higher places. Many are aware of wearable temperature and heart monitoring devices as well as of ingestible smart pills.
The problem has to do with the technology behind the internet of things as it is not quite where it has to be for meeting healthcare’s stringent privacy and security needs.
The sky’s the limit once these concerns are finally addressed and the near future could have people going to pharmacies as they leave with bags of small, smartphone-connectable gadgets along with their prescriptions.
The Importance of Wireless Data
Smartphones can receive and send data; therefore, smartphones are considered smart, but would become obsolete if advances weren’t made in data connectivity and in wireless networks. Healthcare facilities that have access to broadband will usually use landline connections while patients will use Wi-Fi to connect so long as this is accessible.
However, the seven percent of rural facilities (while the one percent of total nationwide facilities) that are unable to access broadband and those patients that lack a reliable connection on their own, cellular data needs to fill the gap left due to a network infrastructure that has yet to expand into their area.
Rural patients may benefit from initiatives in the near future such as a unique delivery system of the internet that utilizes balloons to provide data connectivity known as Project Loon. While Loon and technologies that are similar are continuing to be tested, they can offer the opportunity for providers of telehealth to reach patients that are new and in under-served areas.
These and other technologies that are out there, as well as upcoming ones, offer telehealth the opportunity to become better than it already is. Therefore, healthcare and patients will be the receiver of these benefits in the near future and beyond.