Telemedicine and the Way Forward

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In unusual times like the ones we are in today, given restrictions on movement and limited availability of medical and other logistical resources, telemedicine is turning into a valuable asset for patients.

For some time, Healthcare industry experts have advocated moving more rapidly to telemedicine, in an effort to reduce cost. In the last five years, many  insurers have begun providing telemedicine offerings as part of their Digital Transformation journey. A few notables have aggressively created a platform and made it available to their members for usage. But more broadly, the usage has been limited.

In unusual times like the ones we are in today, given restrictions on movement and limited availability of medical and other logistical resources, telemedicine is turning into  a valuable asset for  patients. Even with basic features available, when a patient cannot visit a doctor, it is now much easier to  call and schedule an e-visit. These platforms allow for real-time interaction with nurses, making prescriptions requests and video conferencing with the doctors possible.  For example, patients can share pictures of a wound or impacted area, and quickly sync these with doctor notes on measured vitals by the individuals.  Such additional features make up for the lack of digital records that are accessed when we visit the doctor.

With increasing usage and adoption, the higher volume of data will provide additional and refreshed insights into the effectiveness of the model, which will surely lead to more innovation in this area.  All the data resides in one platform, providing the full medical team – doctors, nurses and care managers with the insights to the status of the patients medical history.  In addition, patients will have access to this data, which can be easily shared between multiple medical providers or from one insurer to another. These platforms will evolve into the complete ecosystem – from the basic necessity of a routine doctor visit to care management.

Cost optimization of such models will also evolve with time. Until today it was just another alternative to members. Given how organizations have responded to the pandemic, we have seen these telemedicine platforms move to the center of the conversation as a mission critical service. True effectiveness of the e-visits have resulted into reduced visits to emergency or urgent care facilities, reduced hospitalization rates, increasing access to global expertise of doctors, higher member satisfaction rates and more. It may have taken a crisis, but it is clear that  ‘telemedicine’ is the way forward.

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