The use of technology to provide and improve remote health care is not a new phenomenon; however, 2014 was a groundbreaking year for telemedicine and it looks like 2015 will be even bigger.
By the time you graduate with your health informatics degree, you will have been immersed in the use of IT and telecommunication as a way of providing clinical care from a distance. Telemedicine helps to improve the level of access that patients in remote areas can get to medical services and offers solutions that would not otherwise be readily available in distant communities.
Last year saw a marked increase in the use of wearable devices and video chat became a lot more commonplace, with the internet behemoth Google jumping on the bandwagon with its talk with the doctor now video chat service.
Not to be left behind at the starting gate, some of the biggest pharmacy chains have also introduced medical kiosks that allow for self-service medical checkups, so you can even walk into a Wal-Mart and give yourself a quick checkup. Though you are not speaking directly with a doctor in such kiosks, your ability to track your health online is a step forward for remote care.
The Year Ahead
There are several clear market indicators that would seem to lend considerable weight to the idea that 2015 will be the year that telemedicine firmly establishes itself at the top table of healthcare facilities and services.
According to the IDC, the fact that an estimated 65% of interactions with healthcare organizations are targeted to be completed via mobile devices by the year 2018 means that this year, systems and infrastructure must be in place for this goal to become a reality.
Almost a third of the total amount that Google Ventures invested in projects last year went straight into healthcare and life-science companies, which tells you where they think telemedicine is headed.
Add in the fact that, as per the BBC Research and Towers Watson, the Global Telemedicine market is expected to be worth $27 billion and $16 billion of that is money spent on Virtual health Services, and you have a compelling argument that telemedicine is going to have a big 2015.
Work To Be Done
A virtual diagnosis is only a solution if there is then the ability in place to provide remote on-the-spot treatment, which will be possible when more mobile-friendly diagnostic devices are incorporated into local health clinics.
There are clear signs that the healthcare industry is starting to actively leverage the data that patients are getting from individual apps. The real power of this data will be released when patient and care data becomes fully integrated into a true tele-health solution.