Telemedicine use is growing at an exponential rate. In the US, A recent report estimates that the global market will expand from $38 billion to $130 billion over the next six years. Sure, smartphone saturation and cost containment efforts are fueling the online consultation trend. Here,we’ll explore some factors we see driving telemedicine’s skyrocketing popularity.
Time might be the modern consumer's ultimate currency. Most of us survive thanks to a tightly-regimented schedule, and a doctor’s appointment represents a wrench in our carefully-laid plans. Beyond the time patients spend at a doctor, there are the hours it takes to get there and back, the time spent in the waiting room, and perhaps even the adjustments required to childcare or eldercare.
A face-to-face video consultation with a medical professional is incredibly simple. The freedom to do it from your living room, in your pajamas, within minutes? Even better. The ease of this process is one of its most appealing factors. Just imagine: you’re traveling for work and suddenly come down with a pounding headache, sinus pressure, and chills. With telemedicine, you can get a sinusitis diagnosis and a prescription without ever leaving your hotel room.
Telemedicine represents accessible care for those too sick to leave home, too busy to schedule an appointment, or with limited mobility. Other situations where accessibility drives telemedicine use:
In rural communities, where telemedicine can provide vital access. In one study from NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Harvarad about one-quarter of rural Americans lacked adequate health care access. In places where the internet connection is reliable, telemedicine can bridge that gap.The popularity of the “laptop lifestyle” and flexible work arrangements allow for more travel.
We know patients often make expensive healthcare decisions when they’re stressed, scared, or pressed for time. A prime example is the patient who takes their child to the ER with a cough. When it’s late, and they’re out of options, a frustrated parent isn’t likely to take a chance with their child’s health. An unnecessary trip to the ER could be costly. With a telemedicine benefit, the same patient could get 24/7 answers to their questions for no cost.
Despite the ease and speed of accessing virtual healthcare, there’s a lingering perception that it’s too good to be true. Surely a virtual consult can’t be as good as the real thing, right? Telemedicine professionals use your phone’s photo capabilities to examine areas of concern, write prescriptions, and refer more serious matters to in-person services, making them a smart first-line solution for most medical questions. Telemedicine providers are still subject to state and federal regulations governing care.