Of all the advancements that technology has provided physicians over the past few decades, perhaps none have been more revolutionary and positively disruptive as the telemedicine benefits for physicians. Telemedicine will undoubtedly play an unavoidable and crucial role in the healthcare sector moving forward. Learning about telemedicine’s humble beginnings – and its rapid rise – can aid in the physician candidate’s overall understanding and real-world usage of this technological breakthrough moving forward.
Telemedicine: A humble beginning
The genesis of telemedicine was formed well before the invention of the modern internet. During the 1950s and 1960s, physicians and patients were able to connect over telephone calls and even sometimes using radio wave technology. Over the next few decades, additional technological advancements led to video conferences, which provided a more interactive experience for both the physician and the patient. Therefore, when the internet revolution began in the 1990s, the roots for telemedicine had already been formed, which laid the groundwork for an explosion in the interest and widespread use of telemedicine.
The meteoric rise of telemedicine
Of all the areas in the healthcare sector, perhaps none have experienced such unprecedented and sudden growth as telemedicine. With the advancement of digital communication, accessible internet services and a growing demand for convenient healthcare solutions from both patients and physicians alike, telemedicine was the next natural step in the evolution of healthcare technology. With constant regulatory frameworks being shifted to accommodate telemedicine in more and more geographic areas, the role of this new healthcare delivery system cannot be understated.
With the smartphone becoming a part of our daily lives, so has the usage of mobile health solutions via mobile apps and virtual consultations. In addition, telemedicine has moved beyond the standard video consultation and now patients can even transmit vital signs and other real-time health data using remote monitoring and wearable medical technology. This constant source of outgoing patient data provides a better overview of any possible health concerns, which also promotes preventive healthcare.
COVID-19’s role in telemedicine acceleration
While telemedicine was already becoming more and more prevalent in the healthcare industry, the global pandemic caused by the COVID-19 virus acted as a catalyst to propel telemedicine into mainstream adoption. With widespread lockdowns and the need for social distancing, telemedicine provided a safer alternative than venturing out to a brick-and-mortar hospital or medical office for a consultation. Not only did telemedicine become an unexpected lifeline for many people during lockdowns, but it also proved its adaptability and resilience as it was used in greater numbers than ever before.
The benefit of telemedicine for physicians
While telemedicine provides seemingly endless benefits for physicians, the most obvious and important benefit may be flexibility. Telemedicine allows physicians to set their own office hours and provide healthcare services from either an office or the comfort of their own home. This breakthrough technology also allows physicians to reach patients in rural and remote areas, which provides physicians the chance to play an active and important role in addressing the healthcare disparity that often faces residents of rural areas.
Constant evolution for a promising future
With the recent inclusion of artificial intelligence and predictive analytics in telemedicine, there is even more room for growth in this particular area of the healthcare industry. No matter how the technology continues to evolve, it’s clear that virtual health delivery is unquestionably here to stay.