Across the globe, healthcare remains one of — if not the — most important sector. Though there is still a significant amount of work to be done in virtually every country, technology has helped drastically improve the way healthcare is administered.
The Internet is more popular than ever before. In fact, according to the Pew Research Center, 77% of Americans go online daily. Approximately 43% say they go online several times per day and 26% say they’re online almost constantly. Telemedicine, which is the remote diagnosis and treatment of patients by means of telecommunications technology, has made it much easier for patients to get health-related advice in a timely and efficient manner.
Across the U.S., 92% of urgent care facilities maintained wait times of 30 minutes or less (in 2015), but there are plenty of health centres that struggle to see patients within a reasonable amount of time. That’s where telemedicine comes into play.
According to CTV News, virtual house calls that allow physicians to diagnose problems and even prescribe drugs digitally are becoming increasingly popular across Canada.
Approximately 72% of all businesses say improving customer experience is their top priority — and telemedicine can certainly help Canadian healthcare facilities improve the overall patient experience.
“I understand the desire for care that’s more convenient and timely,” said Dr. Kristin Ray, lead author of a study that looked at 340,000 insured children who suffered from acute respiratory illnesses in 2015 and 2016. “But we want to make sure that we don’t sacrifice quality or safety or effectiveness in the process.”
Dr. Ray’s findings were published in the journal Pediatrics.
During telemedicine visits, patients can interact with medical professionals through both video and/or audio calls. This approach is not only more efficient, but it’s also much less expensive than visiting a qualified medical facility. Though there are plenty of doctors and hospitals that only use this technology for medical consultations, direct-to-consumer telemedicine programs are gaining significant popularity across Canada.
For the 10th year in a row, the number of physicians and the number of physicians per population increased in Canada. Similarly, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 38,600 surgeons working in the U.S. today.
It’s important to note that healthcare professionals still need to be carious about providing incorrect information via the Internet. In the U.S., medical malpractice is quite common and makes up 15% of all personal injury cases.
According to Teladoc Health, more than 30,000 Canadian businesses will provide 24/7 access to medical care via telemedicine.
“This service will offer incredible convenience, time savings, and value for our team as it allows them to access high-quality medical care around their own schedules and needs,” added McKenzie Hamp, Director, People & Culture at 7shifts Employee Scheduling Software Inc. “As a SaaS company, we’re always looking to streamline everyday processes through the most trusted and leading technology solutions. Teladoc Health is providing just that as they disrupt the healthcare industry by removing the barriers individuals and families face in accessing care.”
Again, much more research is needed and, overall, there could be major improvements to the global healthcare sector, but telemedicine seems to be nudging the industry in the right direction.