The telehealth industry is experiencing an unprecedented boost now. The COVID-19 pandemic has already changed the world in many ways. An increased interest in this particular type of service is one of the changes that might last well after the crisis is over. One of the parts of telehealth is telemedicine. But due to the immeasurable level of popularity of telemedicine during a pandemic, the concepts of telehealth vs telemedicine have often become interchangeable. In fact, this might have been the push that telemedicine needed to become a true player in the healthcare arena. These changes might transform lives for millions of people who still have limited access to healthcare services. Potentially, this development can save innumerable lives in the future.
History of Telehealth: From the 1970s to the COVID-19 Crisis of 2020
The history of telemedicine starts in the 1970s with NASA’s STARPAHC program. The Space Technology Applied to Rural Papago Advanced Healthcare was very experimental and strange back in the day. It relied on microwaves to deliver healthcare services to a remote and isolated Indian reservation in Arizona. The project wasn’t a big success and the first real telemedicine project that was international started only in 1989.
That particular project showed much more promise for the development of remote healthcare. It was geared toward helping the victims of an earthquake in Armenia. Limited though it was, already it showed that medics can benefit greatly from having access to a huge pool of data.
For a long time after this, telehealth was limited to telephone services only. They were never widespread. However, they have always been a necessity. Therefore, the development of this industry has been steady, but slow.
No matter how fast the globalization and urbanization of the world are going, remote communities remain. These people have no access to healthcare, but they do often have access to telecommunication technologies today. Combining the two is the logical way to go. However, this particular development has been very slow until recently.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything by boosting the interest in the service almost overnight. Now not only the people with limited mobility or living in remote areas were looking to use these services. Everyone who needed access to healthcare but didn’t have an acute emergency on their hands had to look for alternatives. So, telehealth went from being used by about 11% of the population to 46% in a few months.
The Coronavirus Pandemic and Telehealth Popularity Boost
The coronavirus pandemic had a tremendous impact on the healthcare industry. Sadly, most of it wasn’t good because the pandemic highlighted the many weaknesses of the current system. One of those was how truly limited it is. With the increased number of patients, hospitals and clinics simply had no room.
One of the solutions to this problem was switching patients to remote appointments. Of course, not every kind of medical treatment can be done remotely. However, those procedures that could be performed at a distance were rapidly moved to video conferencing and other types of telecommunications.
This is how telehealth moved from being the lifesaving service for a few remote communities to a necessary precaution for millions.
Unsurprisingly, an increase in demand immediately spurred the development of the telemedicine industry. Many businesses that offer these services today are launching new services. But a true change will take time. At the moment, telehealth technology is still limited in its functionality. But even so some companies are already making an impact on thousands of patients.
Best Telehealth Providers Globally
The most popular type of a telemedicine provider today is a certified and versatile one, like Get Maple, a Canadian telehealth company that offers well over a dozen remote medical services. The number of issues you can address with the help of Get Maple is increasing daily. This is exactly what makes it a noteworthy telehealth provider on the global arena.
Get Maple shows many others a way to use available healthcare resources most efficiently. It has a rotating pool of certified doctors offering a wide range of services. This means that a patient doesn’t get the comfort of becoming attached to a single doctor. However, everyone can receive the help they need quickly and efficiently from a qualified professional. Prioritizing this convenience is a valuable quality in telemedicine.
With the help of Get Maple, patients can get diagnosis and prescriptions, including sick leave, for the majority of common health issues. These range from ear infections to skin treatments and birth control prescriptions.
Most importantly, some insurance providers recognize this company. Therefore, they cover your medical expenses incurred with its services.
Teladoc is one of the industry veterans for telehealth. This company is showing significant growth right now, all fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic. The main advantage offered by this particular company is the availability of its services. Any patient can get their consultation using a simple Android or iOS app. Moreover, you should be able to see the doctor within 20 minutes of your initial contact with the company.
Providing a satisfactory first experience is one of the biggest challenges for telemedicine providers. Teladoc managed to ace than offering their customers a great experience. The services on offer are highly versatile and cover many common health issues, as well as pediatrics and mental health.
One of the greatest examples of a more specialized telehealth provider is the American Maven Clinic. It’s a new platform but it has already made a great change. This clinic is dedicating to helping women deal with issues related to pregnancy, motherhood, infertility, and miscarriages.
Maven Clinic allows busy women get a healthcare consultation from a certified professional at a convenient time. The clinic offers not only medical services but also coaching and guidance on childcare. There is even a breast milk shipping service included.
Over 1,700 doctors work with Maven Clinic to offer consultations at any given time. The app does not only allow you to consult a healthcare professional. It also included tracking features, plans, and other specialized resources to ensure every patient gets high-quality personalized care. Most importantly, this app collects data and analyzes it to offer patients personalized recommendations based on this information.
Is Telehealth Here to Stay?
There is no arguing the fact that the entire telehealth industry managed to move on to the next level because of the coronavirus pandemic. However, it’s still early to tell whether these changes will stick once the world is restored to its pre-COVID state.
The truth is that telehealth services are limited. At the moment, there is no technology capable of changing that. Monitoring and diagnostic equipment available today is barely able to produce any significant results. Also, the very structure of the healthcare industry makes this type of service inconvenient from the organizational point of view.
But at the same time, the awareness of the telehealth services has increased drastically. Therefore, it’s safe to assume that many people who were first exposed to telemedicine now will keep using it. The convenience of these services is undeniable.
However, for telehealth to truly become the norm, the industry will require massive changes. Even for it to become a staple in the limited diagnostics and treatments it can handle now, the industry needs to change. It must become affordable, which means that governments and insurance providers both must recognize it. Such developments have yet to occur. Therefore, for now, telehealth remains a luxury service.