Industry Spotlight: Telemedicine

Telemedicine is making a noticeable impact on patients and healthcare providers around the world. If you haven’t used these types of services lately, you may be surprised at the current scope of virtual health capabilities. Traditional use cases for telemedicine include primary care, mental health appointments, and personal-wellness such as fitness or meditation. Industry trends also show intriguing evidence for new and emerging methods for virtual healthcare.

What is Telemedicine?

The history of telemedicine dates back to the early 1900s with the introduction of the radio. Today, the American Telemedicine Association defines telemedicine as “the use of medical information exchanged from one site to another via electronic communications to improve a patient’s clinical health status.” Considering the wide array of medical specialties, telemedicine plays a diverse role in healthcare.

Use Cases:

  • Primary care evaluation
  • Preoperative consultation
  • Post-operative evaluation
  • Patient monitoring
  • Pre-appointment check-in
  • Fitness classes
  • Meditation and wellness
  • Psychiatric consultation
  • Health insurance management
  • Medical information and history
  • Medical device consultation
  • Medical imaging
  • Medical education

How Does Telemedicine Work?

Healthcare providers and patients can connect seamlessly over the web to engage in medical services. A wide range of providers and specialists can perform telemedicine services through mobile health and remote patient monitoring (RPM). RPM devices are widely used in geriatric and pediatric care to ensure patient safety. These devices are designed to help identify medical issues and immediately alert a guardian or healthcare provider.

Telemedicine is accessible through a variety of mobile devices including phones, computers, and more. With user-friendly technology such as mobile apps, web apps, and innovative devices like Peloton and The Mirror, new users will have a sense of familiarity when navigating these platforms. Providers or instructors can schedule appointments and use video or chat capabilities to communicate with their patients effectively.

Why is Telemedicine Important?

Telemedicine offers huge benefits to its users. We've seen improvements in patient satisfaction, medical efficacy, and decreased financial burden. Other benefits that are important to patients and providers include:

  • Improved profitability for hospitals and providers
  • Increased appointment volume
  • Decreased waiting times
  • Simple-to-use UX/UI for life-like service
  • Travel complications reduced or eliminated
  • Information passed quickly and effectively

One reason people prefer to use a telemedicine app over in-person appointments is convenience. Patients and healthcare providers alike can receive the same great care as an in-person appointment while enjoying the comfort of their home or workplace. In addition to comfort, telemedicine appointments eliminate travel all together and provide a time-efficient solution for patients without the hassle.

Current Challenges in Telemedicine

As healthcare and technology firms work towards finding better solutions for current issues such as HIPAA compliance and patient engagement, new challenges arise as demand for services expands. CIO Magazine reported the Top Challenges Facing Healthcare CIOs in 2012, many of which are similar to what we are faced with today.

Technical challenges related to telemedicine include site-reliability, scalability, and performance. Each of these plays a major factor in medical efficacy and patient satisfaction. Users may also experience challenges when operating certain platforms if the user interface is unfamiliar or difficult to navigate. Telemedicine companies recognize the importance of user retention and spend a significant amount of resources to ensure these complications are mitigated.

Building a Telemedicine App or Service?

Stream Chat is HIPAA ready and provides unmatched chat capabilities to over half a billion end users around the world. Messages sent using Stream Chat’s API-driven platform are encrypted in transit and at rest, and for added security, you could use end-to-end encryption services such as Virgil Security, or any other encryption mechanism of your choice.

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