Medical practice is moving from the conventional face-to-face consultations to technology embedded, digital or video-based access of doctors not just in India but globally, according to experts.
“We see that modern medical practice has charted the tele-communication pathway to provide healthcare services. We are using telemedicine to deliver connected care and m-health for remote monitoring. These are used not only to treat specific conditions but a range of illnesses, besides follow-up either from offices or homes. Currently, it is estimated that 20 million people access telemedicine till date from all over the world”, said Jonathan Linkous in his keynote address on “Digital health in the western world: Current status and opportunity” at the three-day Telemedicon 2016 being held in Bengaluru between November 10 and 12, 2016.
There is a huge growth opportunity to be tapped in this space as telemedicine is now integrated into the mainstream of government and corporate healthcare space. The US has managed to register a number of online patient consultation, he added.
There are a number of service models in telemedicine which are driving the growth of the sector. For instance, remote imaging has caught the attention of radiologists, pathologists and cardiologists. In India, Teleradiology Solutions, was among the first companies in the US to be to make a promising start in this sector.
Concepts like facility- to- facility or the hub and spoke model and multispecialty networks are emerging to offer specialist services like psychiatry, neurology and ICU. Remote monitoring of cardiac conditions, chronic care, neuropsychology and post hospitalization support have revolutionised patient care. This along with mobile app to access doctors has now transformed the healthcare landscape, making access to medical care instant and convenient, said experts.
“There is a huge presence of several telemedicine service providers in the US and now we would soon witness homes to be the base of telemedicine. This has also accelerated healthcare efficiency with streamlined work-flow of x-rays and pathology reports being transmitted in real-time besides offset the shortage of doctors”, said Dr. Alex Thomas, executive director, Association of Healthcare Providers of India.
According to Linkous, there is need for technology disruption to tackle the issues of quality pressure, innovation, communication cost, consumer dissatisfaction. Another barrier for telemedicine is the resistance from doctors and patients, reimbursement, business returns, integration.