Healthcare is a trillion-dollar sector that is absolutely essential to society. Thanks to the continuing advancements of technology, and its increasing integration into healthcare and medicine, the potential of healthcare is continuing to be expanded. One of the recent trends to come about from the intersection of technology and healthcare is telehealth. We spoke with TechQuarters, an IT company in London that has experience providing business IT support London-based healthcare providers have used for many years. From their work with healthcare organisations, they have a great insight into the advancement of telehealth, were able to tell us about it.
What is Telehealth?
In 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic began, the healthcare sector quickly saw the benefit of telehealth. At it’s core, telehealth is the delivery of care and health-related service via information and telecommunication technology. According to TechQuarters, this has been quickly embraced by the tech sector, which can be seen by companies like Microsoft offering tailored solutions for healthcare – including Microsoft 365 for Healthcare organisations.
Examples of Telehealth
The social distancing practices that were introduced due to COVID-19 led to a few common telehealth solutions. For example, virtual visits became the norm – in other words, doctor-patient interactions that were held remotely, normally via a video call. Other examples of telehealth might be text, email, or app notifications alerting patients of appointments, or reminding them to pick up a subscription.
Benefits of Telehealth
Telehealth has many applications, and therefore it is able to benefit many different types of patients. The top benefit of telehealth is the increase in accessibility – for example, elderly patients, or those with mobility issues can access care remotely. Telehealth can also be used to automate clinical processes, thus streamlining patient care in hospitals.
Challenges of Telehealth
The challenges of telehealth generally revolve around the increased amount of data being generated pertaining to patients, as well as that data being shared beyond the physical confines of hospitals (for example, when patient information is shared via apps or other services that can be accessed on home computers and smartphones).
Predictions for Telehealth
. Growth of Digital Therapeutics
A big part of telehealth is the delivery of care via digital channels – commonly known as digital therapeutics (or DTx) – this form of telehealth is predicted to grow considerable. Examples of digital therapeutics includes the use of apps and online portals to access information and services (i.e. prescription information, appointment booking). DTx may also incorporate the use of wearable technology – such as smart watches, or bio-patches – which enable care professionals to monitor patients remotely.