The idea behind telemedicine and telehealth isn’t new—but this rapidly expanding type of service is dominating the industry, and could have perhaps reached its peak in the modern times with a global health crisis in our midst.
FEATURED INFOGRAPHIC: The Booming Business of Telemedicine – Online Medical Services
Did you know that originally, medical professionals used telehealth and telemedicine service to reach patients in rural areas? It reached remote patients and provided the convenience and quality of traditional services.
Over time, however, the government as well as medical and health staff all over the country saw how the same service could produce the same results in urban places while also addressing staff shortages.
And thanks to technological advancements, online doctor visit services provide patients and consumers access to expert opinion and care from specialists without having to travel long distances.
Fast forward to the challenge that was 2020, when a health crisis of epic proportions turned the world upside down. With overburdened professionals such as on-call primary care providers, coupled with the pressure that comes with imposed close-contact restrictions, virtual health and medical care became the go-to service.
Contributing to the rise of online medical services is the fact that, in 2020, roughly 284 million Americans used the Internet, and this number could grow to up to 296 million in five years. Practically everyone has access to easy-to-install or easy-to-download and user-friendly mobile medical and health apps and devices.
With similar emerging technologies, such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, the telemedicine and telehealth landscapes are increasingly becoming the platform for obtaining the service patients need, particularly in this pandemic.
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Telehealth and Telemedicine
The American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation clarifies that telehealth “refers to a broader scope of remote health care services than telemedicine” and “remote non-clinical services,” while telemedicine specifically points to “remote clinical services.” Similar organizations call telemedicine as a subset of telehealth, but both include a very similar range of services.
The American Telemedicine Association lists virtual visits via phone, chat, or video as the most commonly used approaches in telemedicine and telehealth. In any and all of these, patient data, diagnoses, or images are treated with confidentiality, and professionals adhere to consultation rules and procedures.
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With improved consumer access that conquers geographic challenges, virtual doctor visits are deemed invaluable as efficient, effective, and safe alternative to conventional health care becomes the norm. Virtual care systems and technologies also translate to reduced travel time and shorter stays at the hospital, hence the cost-efficiency that comes such an option. Today’s telehealth and telemedicine are applauded for their superior quality as well, as studies point to satisfying outcomes in the delivery of these services.
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