The Telehealth Revelation
It doesn’t take a genius to figure the increasing need for healthcare services in today’s day and age. In the race toward economic development to enable generic well-being, healthcare is a sector that is eternal in its requirement, in whatever form one can imagine.
Healthcare is also a sector that spans both pleasure and necessity. Ensuring the well-being of the population and the individual at the same time is the responsibility many governments have taken seriously, especially in areas where they have the infrastructure to infuse technology into everyday systems.
A PwC report estimates the global healthcare market at $9.59 trillion, a staggering amount by any standards. The sector itself is now subject to rejuvenation with the advent of the on-demand and sharing economy models – this is a rejuvenation in terms of both, the number of players entering the market and the technology they bring to the table to spread their own brand of healthcare all over the world.
As healthcare operates on several levels, let’s take a bird’s eye view of the industry and its fragmentation. We have Healthcare consumer engagement, Big Data and Analytics, Digital Diagnostics, EHR and clinical workflow, Post-acute solutions and Hospital Administration (domains overlap, being both public and private in their motivations and funding).
Industry disruption is here to stay with the advent of technology in all of these sectors – Big Data wasn’t even in the picture till the late 2000s – as late as 2011, some say, as far as funding as concerned.
Healthcare models have been reactive till date with the establishment of centralized infrastructure like hospitals and other all-inclusive outfits for surgery and therapy. Now, we see the shift towards the proactive model – here, a decentralized, unit-based approach is taken. Efforts are being taken to empower each individual with the necessary monitoring, diagnostic and preventive tools in the form of wearable accessories, application-based testing (smartphones and otherwise), highly mobile forms of healthcare consultation, therapy and treatment – and finally, the consolidation of patient data in secure data vaults for reference and prognosis.
The fact that the population is aging in most developed nations with said infrastructure is also an indicator – elderly healthcare is a necessity that will fast become dogma for the industry as a whole. The fact that access needs to be brought to them rather than them seeking it actively is what strikes true – care-giving programs need to be necessarily of the ‘on-demand’ nature, supplemented with easy to use technology for an efficient solution.
Rising sedentary levels, coupled with our varied, non-regulated habits as concerns eating, irregular sleeping hours in amped-up work environments around the globe and the spread of new chronic diseases will need attention more than ever before – hence, the proactive model is better suited for these, since reactive models boast infrastructure that is nowhere close to being mobile, flexible or even easy to use. Improving general access to healthcare will be a big note to hit.
Perhaps you’re still wondering about where the title of Telehealth fits in. Well, when we talk sector disruption for the proactive model, we can discuss several innovations that are on the rise, and will be responsible.
A whitepaper by Appster (which crunches reports by PwC, Accenture and the like) on healthcare shows us some upcoming facets of the same.
- Wearables and biosensing technology (FitBits and the like)
- Analytics and Big Data (for aggregating use cases and research)
- Healthcare Consumer Engagement (Direct purchase of healthcare products for businesses – mostly B2B models, with some B2C concerns)
- Telemedicine/Telehealth (Our topic and its concern – the delivery of healthcare services, remotely)
- Enterprise Wellness (Employee well-being centered ventures in big enterprises)
- EHR and clinical workflow (Electronic Healthcare Records and surrounding applications)
We would prefer not using the term ‘telemedicine’ because it has been known to signal a narrower scope as concerns the delivery of healthcare services. It limits itself to remote scanning, testing through devices, and consultations over audio/video media, and so on – but it does not include visits from the doctor to your house and other on-site, on-demand healthcare.
To understand Telehealth better, let us deconstruct it further into its various modalities. As it refers to a broad range of systems and procedures under the ambit of healthcare, this is only natural. The various kinds of Telehealth can be:
- Virtual Consultations
- Remote Monitoring
- Storage and Forwarding
- Integrated Telehealth
- Synchronous and Anachronous Telehealth
Virtual Consultations refer to doctor-patient interfaces online. Patients can see their providers remotely and seek medical advice and prescriptions. In addition, the virtual network can even extend to remote agencies which can act upon the advice of the doctor, allowing the provider to operate seamlessly despite not being physically present on-site.
Remote Monitoring is all about accessing the patient’s health profile and data remotely for the sake of analyzing it and monitoring it. The elderly and those susceptible to chronic diseases benefit greatly as timely care and recovery can be enabled if they are monitored.
Storage and Forwarding is the Big Data side of the business, which allows for the secure storage of patient information, so that providers can consult and collaborate to engineer solutions and healthcare plans for patients. This also works for huge data banks, which can be integrated with an IoT approach in the case of governments who seek to provide healthcare to a large population effectively.
Integrated Telehealth is the on-site application of the virtual portals which can summon the doctor, the machine or whatever else that is required in the process. While some still restrict it to the virtual sector, we augment this definition by including timely arrivals in the form of old-fashioned house calls using new, avant-garde technology.
Lastly, the aspects of synchronous and anachronous Telehealth. These simply refer to Telehealth based treatments and consults being implemented in real-time, or otherwise.
A Burgeoning Industry
The Telehealth market has reached greater heights, much like the healthcare industry on the whole. An IBIS report, dated 2015 August, details that the industry has a potential revenue of over $645 Million, and is growing at a stupendous rate of 34.1%.
The primary drivers for this are cited to be –
- The aging population and widening care-giver shortage for the elderly
- A demand for easily accessible healthcare
- Governmental Initiatives to boost this sector
- A focus on savings, as the potential costs are great with inefficient systems in place
Home Care, and On-demand care are particularly lucrative sectors as far as Telehealth is concerned. The extant systems are plagues with rust and a lack of innovation – over that, they incur significant costs and losses due to said inefficiency and the standard of healthcare thus suffers. Most brick and mortar agencies have not displayed an adaptive, agile approach and the new entrants intend to take full advantage.
Engineering Your Next Disruption?
The whole preamble above was to basically spur you, the potential entrepreneur to look at Telehealth with a discerning eye.
The advent of this industry simply indicates a newer path that you need to examine – the fact that providers will now be based increasingly outside the typical hospital-clinic scenario, onto these virtual platforms and remote agencies.
The AMB Telehealth Industry overview suggests that for patients, it is indeed all about accessibility. Which means, your foray has to solve that fundamental problem and plug it.
Over 72% of patients, according to the AMB report, are willing to see a doctor virtually. Over 76% prefer access to the service rather than to the physical NEED to see a doctor, and over 70% prefer to get their prescriptions online. The numbers tell you the story of an urgent need that you can channel to your next disruptive advantage.
For most of these, apps are now the whole rage. The dissemination of healthcare apps on the market is now immense – while some scratch the surface like fitness monitoring apps and the like, others like BrainCheck solve systemic problems and are very helpful.
Does this not sound familiar to the on-demand model? In the case of Uber, the millennials indicated that they’d rather be moved from A to B than own their own car, or have the hassles of owning one. For other stagnant enterprises, it is pretty much the same – people now want access and easy access at that, regardless of the medium over which it is being transmitted. In fact, people are comfortable with the virtual medium more than ever before, as technology is integrated into several facets of our lives.
If you’re looking to engineer your next disruption in some sector, we vouch for Telehealth. Not only are the economic benefits immense, but there are obvious social benefits. The sanctity of life can be preserved by your next disruption – no long waiting queues, overhead costs, time constraints and mobility problems for the elderly – a solution which can provide that is a boon, both for you as an individual and for society at large, where healthcare has become such an issue for conventional modes of operation.
We at NextJuggernaut can even help with this venture, considering the fact that we do have several clients in this industry who seek our powerful online platform for such concerns. Please do not hesitate, and get in touch with us – ideas and conversations may only begin with your proactivity.