September 30, 2022
Demand for healthcare services has skyrocketed over time. One of the key reasons for increased care services demand is that the U.S. population continues to age, and the older generation continues to retire. Therefore, healthcare organizations need innovative ways to cater to the growing patient demand.
Therefore, this guide will explore how telehealth technology can keep up with the ever-increasing patient demands. To build a strong case in favor of the statement, we will start by first understanding the reason behind the growing demand for healthcare. Proceeding forward, we will present a comparison between telemedicine and telehealth solutions to clear ambiguities related to the basic concepts.
Once we develop a decent basic knowledge, we will review telehealth’s global market size and expected growth in the healthcare industry. Then, we will explore the major driving factors incorporated in the surge of telehealth solutions. Finally, we will discuss how future telehealth trends can assist providers to deal with increased patient demand.
According to the National Library of Medicine, Mr. Edward Salsberg - Senior Direct of the Center for Workforce Studies at AAMC (Association of American Medical College), stated that the U.S. population is growing by 25 million individuals every decade. Moreover, the aging of the population is indisputably contributing to the shortage of healthcare professionals and increasing the demand for care services (e.g., cancer services).
Within 2000-2030, people aged over 65 will double. This segment is expected to make twice as many doctor's visits as those younger than them, and the incidence of being diagnosed with cancer is also higher in them compared to the younger population. Additionally, in the past 15 years, the number of average physician visits by people aged over 45 and under 65 has also increased significantly.
The elderly population tends to suffer from higher rates of chronic conditions, including asthma, hypertension, arthritis, hypertension, and diabetes. These people often find it difficult to travel to their primary healthcare providers in person. In some cases, physicians commute to the patient's location to provide service. That is why people believe that telehealth technology can be the answer to the growing patient demands.
The terms telehealth and telemedicine are interchangeably used in the healthcare space. According to mHealthIntelligence, ATA (American Telemedicine Association) also considers these terms synonymous. But it should not come as a surprise since telehealth and telemedicine encompass similar services, including e-health patient monitoring, health wireless applications, patient consultation video conferencing, medical education, image medical records transmission, and much more.
But if you review both on a technical front, telemedicine is a subset of telehealth. The latter refers to using telecommunication technologies and electronic information to support long-distance provider and patient health-related education, clinical health care, administration, and public health. Contrarily, telemedicine focuses on improving patient health status by exchanging medical information electronically.
According to ResearchGate, mentioned below are the key differences between telehealth and telemedicine:
Here are some examples to clear any ambiguity:
However, the healthcare industry is evolving and continuously expanding. As a result, these terms are likely to change and may cover more healthcare services with time.
According to Fortune Business Insights, the global market size of telehealth was 144.38 billion in 2020, 90.74 billion in 2021, and it is forecasted to grow to $636.38 billion in 2028 with a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 32.1%.
Even though telehealth is not a new technology, it gained the spotlight during the Covid-19 outbreak. During the peak of the pandemic, front-line warriors, such as paramedics, physicians, and older patients with existing severe illnesses, were most at risk of getting infected. Thus, it gained traction by the constraints of the pandemic and regulatory push to expand care accessibility and limit the spread by catering to patients without being in contact.
According to Statista's report of a survey carried out among physicians in the United States, 65% of the respondents has not used telehealth before the Covid-19 outbreak. During the peak of the pandemic, 43% of clinicians were using telehealth technology to provide care services to more than 50% of their patients. Additionally, in the future, 43% of providers plan to keep using telehealth services for 10-49% of their total appointments.
Other than the outbreak of Covid-19, there are several other driving factors incorporated into the rise of telehealth solutions. Two of the main factors are discussed below:
Telehealth has successfully overcome the distance barrier and ensured health care delivery in remote areas. Most of the population in underserved countries lives in rural areas with no access to quality healthcare. Therefore, in several countries' government is emphasizing providing care services via virtual care platforms, especially to people residing in rural areas.
For this initiative, the government is establishing pilot projects and policies, propelling the positive market shift and growth of telemedicine solutions. For instance, in the year 2020, in the United States, FCC (Federal Communications Commission) developed programs to motivate healthcare organizations to deploy telehealth technology.
Furthermore, several nations' governments the implementation of e-ICUs (electronic intensive care units) enabling RPM (remote patient monitoring) via high-speed internet, two-way cameras, and electronic devices. Thus, extensive support from governmental bodies and favorable implementation policies is set to drive the growth of the telehealth market worldwide.
With the growing aging (geriatric) population and rising prevalence of chronic diseases, healthcare costs increase significantly. According to CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services), healthcare spending across the United States is projected to average 5.1% over 2021-2030, and to reach nearly $6.8 trillion by 2030.
According to BenefitsPro, the U.S. spends $3.8 trillion on health care every year; 90% of it is spent on patients with chronic diseases. Moreover, as per NCBI's (National Center for Biotechnology Information) report on Healthcare Expenditures for Treatment of Mental Disorders, $106.5 billion were spent on patients with medical illnesses in 2019.
The scenario of spending on chronic care patients and people with mental health issues is approximately the same in many countries. As a result, the demand for technology-driven platforms has increased significantly. Since these solutions can reduce the cost burden without compromising on the quality of care delivery. Thus, telehealth services promise quality and cost-reduction, and it is likely to be implemented in all healthcare organizations. Thus, increasing the market growth rate in the future.
Now that we have discussed the driving factors influencing the growth of the telehealth industry, it is time to explore the trends. However, before diving into the more conceptual trends, let’s first see these figures to understand how patients and physicians perceive telemedicine solutions in numbers.
McKinsey & company conducted a survey, and the results showed that there is a drastic shift from 11% to 76% when it comes to people who want to try telehealth services.
It was originally implemented as a strategy to reduce the spread of the Covid-19 virus among the community. However, its many benefits have led to an active conversation between healthcare practitioners about the continuation of telehealth consultations for many patients in the future. The main reason for its popularity is that it is considered a cost-effective first-line treatment for non-critical follow-up appointments and there are a few more telehealth capabilities which you shouldn't overlook.
According to HealthcareTransformers, telemedicine utilization has stabilized at 38% higher compared to pre-pandemic levels. And the AMA (Americal Medical Association) Digital Health Report proves it since physicians' use of virtual visits has increased from 14% to 28% and RMP from 13% to 22% in the period 2016-2019.
Moreover, the Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare in a research study found that over 50% of clinicians would use telehealth services to prepare for an upcoming visit, refill medications, receive medical education, or review test results.
Thus, we can expect to see insurance companies and providers working together in the future to broaden the availability and accessibility of telehealth.
According to the Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare report, around the globe, 1 in 3 adults suffer from chronic conditions on average, such as Alzheimer's, kidney disease, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, lung disease, and stroke side effects.
In most cases, certain preventive care methods and lifestyle choices assist patients in dealing with these diseases as per NCBI. However, a large segment of people suffering from chronic diseases fail to follow through with their treatment, struggle to ingest or refill their prescriptions or miss their follow-up appointments.
According to Mayo Clinic Preceding review report, titled Medication Adherence: Who Cares? The lack of care plan adherence by patients costs the healthcare space billions annually.
Telehealth solutions have the potential to not only minimize the costs associated with care plans, but also to increase overall patient adherence and engagement with them.
It enables patients to conveniently connect and frequently with their primary care providers by eliminating the frustrating waiting time in a queue, and the cost of continuous commute to the medical facility. Furthermore, increased interaction between practitioner and patient may allow issues to be identified early on in the treatment, mitigating the risk of it converting into serious conditions later on.
According to NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health), mental illness is common in the United States. 1 in 5 adults live with some kind of mental illness, accumulating to 52.9 million people as of 2019. These mental illnesses can vary in severity of conditions from mild to moderate and severe. There are two broad categories distinguishing these conditions; AMI (any mental illness) and SMI (serious mental illness).
With the rise of the pandemic, these conditions worsened with a sudden surge in anxiety and depression due to lockdown, isolation, and unknown fear of increase. As per WHO (World Health Organization), the pandemic disrupted mental health care services in 93% of countries globally.
People already getting treatment for their mental disorders experienced devastating situations with their appointments canceled and support groups shut. Thus, their options to alleviate the symptoms became limited.
As a result, many counselors, therapists, and physicians turned to virtual conferencing to continue treating and supporting their patients in their silent mental battles. Moreover, as per NIHM even before the pandemic, only 50% of the individuals diagnosed with mental illness receive treatment. It was partially because of limited specialists in a given area. Nonetheless, with telepsychiatry and teletherapy, things will change for the better.
Growing patient demand has been the driving force when it comes to the popularity of telehealth services. Given the trends, the demand for accessibility and convenience to care services will continue to rise. Ultimately resulting in higher satisfaction expectations from clinicians. Thus, when healthcare organizations and medical practices plan for telehealth implementation, patient expectations and experience should be at the forefront of their minds.
However, with the rise in demand, more and more organizations are branching out and entering the market. Hence, you should also stay on top of your practice and start planning on implementing a telehealth solution into your practice to survive in the competitive healthcare space. If you are looking to deploy telemedicine into your practice to boost your patient satisfaction level, talkEHR can help turn unbillable follow-up calls into revenue-generating encounters. Besides telehealth, we provide medical billing services, practice management, EHR systems, mobile health apps and Financial Analytics. Check our offerings' detailed overview to get more familiar with our products.
Patients want seamless and integrated virtual visit experiences and juggling multiple platforms and apps is considered to be an unnecessary headache. Consequently, providers are looking for comprehensive health IT solutions with integrated communication, including video, and webchat with real-time follow-up appointments, updates, and reminders. Additionally, the solution needs to be easy to use and navigable for both patient and provider.
According to Repertoire, around 1000 people who have taken at least one virtual visit took the HIDA (Health Industry Distributors Association) Telemedicine survey. The respondents were asked about their satisfaction level with their virtual encounter with the physician. 56% of patients using telemedicine are very satisfied with it. 29% of respondents say they are somewhat satisfied, 13% have a neutral response to the query and only 2% were dissatisfied.
Healthcare IT services that enable data sharing tend to offer more convenience and ease of usability. Thus, telehealth technology is headed in the same direction. The majority of telemedicine apps are beginning to communicate with fitness apps, for instance, to track and record data about an individual's heart rate and step count directly from a wearable device. As a result, healthcare professionals get a more holistic view of their patients' lifestyles. Moreover, when coupled with electronic health records (EHR) software, it can provide clear insights into their health.
According to HIMSS (Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society), the concept of integrated data sharing is driven by interoperability which is the ability to exchange, access, integrate, and utilize data in a coordinated way within and across different departments and healthcare facilities effectively and timely.
Seamlessly integrated and interoperable systems not only share data but also help in interpreting the data and presenting it without compromising its original context. Interoperability and data sharing is the future of telehealth technology, and providers must learn to use these analytics to maximize their revenue and provide better patient care.
Reiterating the significance of integrated data sharing, another telehealth trend that can help lift the burden of growing patient demand from physicians is wearable technology.
Wearable technology goes back to the 1970s when HP developed a wristwatch calculator. Fast forward to 2009, the market received its first Fitbit fitness tracker. In 2015, Apple created a smartwatch, further enhancing the development and product sales growth for fitness trackers and smartwatches.
The wearable devices have enabled clinicians to commence remote patient monitoring. These devices help doctors track and record real-time health metrics, including sleep cycles, blood pressure, heart levels, and glucose levels, directly from their patients.
Being equipped with all the additional metrics about their patient's lifestyle and health, physicians can make more informed and precise diagnoses, treatment plans, or recommendations.
Integrating medical devices with a secure telemedicine platform and EHR system will enable physicians and clinical staff to intervene at the first sign of trouble.
Consequently, there can be a likely increase in demand for medical devices with the rise of telemedicine technology on the condition that physicians and patients trust the privacy and security measures in place. Moreover, the technology platforms must be user-friendly to ensure easy integration into routine life for patients and providers.
According to Insider Intelligence, remote patient monitoring leveraging the medical devices can cut cost and improve patient outcomes. Experts believe that by 2027, the RPM system market will be worth over $1.7 billion. Additionally, 20 million patients across the U.S. will use RPM tools by 2024.
Monitoring and providing care to sick children is a challenge providers face. According to the London Journal of Primary Care's publication titled the Unwell Child, most children are good at masking their symptoms, have difficulty communicating, or become scared or shy in front of the doctor or clinical staff. With these roadblocks, treating children who need long-term treatment becomes complicated. However, with telehealth services, pediatricians and parents can conveniently ensure quality care for minors while minimizing the costs.
According to Healthcare Transformers, pre-pandemic pediatric telehealth was experiencing steady growth. But they speculated that it will become more widespread in the next few years when the generation well-versed with electronic gadgets will embrace parenthood.
Furthermore, as per Somatosensory and Motor Research, there is a rise in telehealth services directed towards young individuals e.g., virtual physiotherapy designed to mimic video games.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the use of telehealth by pediatricians is likely to rise rapidly over the next few years.
In this guide, we discussed how providers can keep up with the skyrocketing patient needs with telehealth since the US population is growing older and needs care around the clock. As people get old, they also become prone to various health conditions, including chronic diseases and cancer, and may find it difficult to visit the facility for an in-person visit. It is the main reason behind the rise in demand for healthcare in the U.S.
Moving forward, we discussed the difference between telehealth and telemedicine and why we can use these terms interchangeably. Then we reviewed the global market growth rate of telehealth technology and its anticipated CAGR in the future.
We also discussed the main driving factors other than the outbreak of Covid-19 that incorporated the rapid upsurge of the telehealth market. Finally, we have seen the future trends of telehealth and how they can help hospitals and medical practices to deal with the increased patient demand.
If you don’t want to be left behind in the competitive healthcare industry, get talkEHR’s telehealth solution. It seamlessly integrates into EHR and medical practice management solution so, you can easily book and reschedule appointments. Automated notifications reduce no-shows and patient engagement increases with the real-time chat feature.