Over the last few years, the concept of telemedicine has been promoted in virtually every aspect of telemedicine. From e-diagnosis, e-labs, and e-pharmacies, telemedicine has not only rebranded medical care but has also significantly increased reach beyond rural borders and poverty lines as well as the increased costs in medical facility maintenance. Many people are now registered with at least one telemedicine network offering personalized primary care of a family care coverage plan. In the United States, stats revealed that more than half of healthcare facilities now have a telemedicine program. In China, over 28% of the popular are now connected to an online virtual doctor service. As it stands, the continuous interest of people in getting medical care cheaply and quickly is perhaps the greatest factor increasing the popularity of telemedicine networks.
On the financial front, telemedicine is fast evolving into a multibillion-dollar industry. In 2019, a Grand View Research study estimated that the global telemedicine industry is projected to grow at a CAGR of 15.1% from 2020 to 2027. By 2026, this market is expected to reach $186 in revenue and market worth. In 2018, the global telemedicine industry was only worth $34 billion. For a market still in infancy, telemedicine is hugely projected to be a strong force in the push to improve the global healthcare index. In communities where adequate medical care is lacking or where the nearest healthcare facility is hundreds of kilometers away, telemedicine has provided the right platform for patients to remotely get medical care.
The biggest selling point for these services is the range of medical conditions they remotely cover. With a reliable internet connection and a smartphone, patients can register for these services, schedule an online appointment, get an online prescription and report daily the progress of therapy on a daily basis. This arrangement improves the conventional system of healthcare delivery, improves the reach of medical care, and also completely removes the burden of accessing medical care from the patient. By implication, many patients are saved the stress of traveling long distances to reach a doctor and standing in long queues for a doctor’s physical appointment. Many online services also have self-supervised healthcare monitoring plans that directly put the patient in charge of their therapy process.
Technology in Disease Management
Online doctor services are leveraging on recent successes recorded in technology to capture a new pool of patients daily. Virtual care established on a digital network sounds exciting, especially to millennials, and passes approval easily from other groups of the population. Remote healthcare delivery is balanced on a two-way communication channel using advanced digital solutions in audiovisual technology. On one end of this channel is the patient, registered and virtually connected to a team of clinicians. The clinicians on the other end are board-certified professionals trained to remotely plan and monitor a therapy plan. Right in the middle of this channel is the Digital Solution Network Provider –a digital vendor supplying the needed technological input and software connecting the patient to the team of registered clinicians.
Many telemedicine networks also have a partnering agreement with registered pharmacies and medical laboratories. This is especially important for patients who will need an online prescription or require a lab test. In all, the complete telemedicine network is designed to remotely serve the patient and significantly reduce the frequency of clinic visits. Perhaps one day it will also impact physical therapy which at this stage still requires an actual visit to a medical center. In 2015, Software Advice published the result of a survey conducted to examine patients’ interest in adopting telemedicine. In the pool of participants, only 16% of the participant pool prefer to visit an emergency room for primary healthcare services if they could also access an online doctor.
Medical Conditions an Online Doctor Can Treat
Virtual doctors are as qualified as in-clinic doctors to handle many medical conditions as presented by the patient. With the exception of conditions that requires immediate, emergency medical intervention, almost all type of medical conditions can be treated remotely. However, in a bid to promote personalized medical care and effectively cater to patient’s needs, online doctor services only treat selected medical conditions based on the pool of target patients and the expertise of specialists available on the network. This explains why the services of many virtual doctor networks revolve around men’s health, pediatrics, maternal care, substance use disorders, and psychiatric care.
Online doctors are well equipped to treat primary care conditions including, but not limited to, asthma, allergies, hypertension, diabetes, migraine, erectile dysfunction, and acne. Telemedicine networks with an expanded scope of treatment also offer treatment plans for urgent care conditions, including urinary tract infections, yeast infections, gout, tonsillitis, pink eye, bronchitis, and pneumonia. Patients with poorly controlled high blood pressure can be placed on ambulatory care. Real-time blood pressure measurements of these patients are sent directly to the clinician, who can decide to modifies therapy for effective blood pressure control and end-organ damage risk reduction. Patients with urinary tract infections, yeast infections, and bronchitis can be referred for a microbial culture and sensitivity test. Results from this test can guide the clinician in selecting the right drugs for the complete elimination of the microbe.
Except in the cases of diabetic emergencies, diabetic patients require no emergency hospitalization and can be adequately managed by a virtual doctor. A patient-doctor interface created by the two-way communication system allows the doctor to get real-time progress of therapy. If need be, an online prescription of anti-diabetics can be issued and modified if necessary. Patients with substance use disorders can be managed on a continuous plan with the doctor always in contact to track therapy efficacy. Should a patient need specialized care that requires hospitalization, a virtual doctor can issue a referral and recommend a specialist for proper care.
With the exception of emergencies, the range of medical conditions an online doctor can manage is limitless. Since the team of doctors on a telemedicine network are qualified and board-certified to practice human medicine, patients are assured of optimal medical care. Many healthcare facilities are steadily incorporating telemedicine into their routine care plans. Innovations like these are expected to improve each of virtual doctor services and also improve patient satisfaction.