The COVID-19 pandemic opened our eyes to a lot of things. We discovered the importance of being with family, friends, and more practical applications of virtual technology. The healthcare sector got out of its rudimentary structure and rapidly adapted to technological innovations. As the virus confined people’s physical movement to domestic boundaries, people realized the growing need for virtual assistance.
Before 2020, virtual care and telemedicine were just names that described the advanced medical support systems in developed countries. But the lockdowns increased people’s curiosity to seek technology-driven medical assistance. They wanted to see their doctors over video calls, get diagnosed, and order medicines online. Online consultations ticked up exponentially within 6-8 months.
Why India Needs Online Consultations Now More Than Ever?
The World Health Organization recommends one doctor per 1000 patients. But currently, we have one doctor per 10, 189 patients. The Indian healthcare sector is facing several challenges. It is weak economically, wrecked politically, and there is a rising prevalence of chronic diseases. A considerable portion of our population is still striving to get primary health care due to an acute shortage of healthcare providers.
It is high-time to look for effective strategies that ensure primary care and accessibility to more people. Healthcare data platforms are slowly gaining center stage as the system moves to connect more patients, diagnose their problems and ensure better coordination.
What Are Market Predictions?
The world is now trying to move ahead of the pandemic mode. Therefore, it is time to look into how technological innovations are going to transform healthcare delivery. Market research carried out by Frost and Sullivan predicts that by the end of 2021, AI-based automation in the healthcare sector will value approx. 21 billion pounds. A similar research report by Tractica states that AI in healthcare will produce revenue worth 19.3 billion dollars by 2025.
Another research predicts that, in India, the telemedicine market will reach a total worth of $5.5 billion by 2025.
The Deloitte Center for Health Solutions researched in collaboration with the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) found some interesting things. They state that half of the executives interviewed by them believe that by 2040, virtual care services will shortly cover well-being services, long-term care, preventive care, and outpatient care.
How are Online Consultations Transforming Healthcare Systems?
The USP of all virtual healthcare programs lies in its ability to personalize interaction between patients and doctors. It enables a free flow of information and data across online platforms. Doctors and clinicians need to perform several mundane tasks like administrative activities, appointment scheduling, recording patients’ medical history, and other routine tasks. The virtual health-facilitated automation and robotics systems can easily take care of such duties and allow them to focus on more critical tasks.
These automation systems will be known as virtual assistants. They will be capable of scheduling appointments, taking down medical notes, keeping the patient’s history before the meeting, and other similar tasks. Virtual assistance will help clinicians and doctors spend more time interacting and treating patients face-to-face.
Virtual health holds the ability to accomplish the four Cs connected with the successful delivery of healthcare service to an end-user:
- Continuity - Keeping a tab on the care setting.
- Connectivity - carrying out synchronous and asynchronous modalities.
- Coordination - Connecting patients to doctors, doctors to doctors, patients to healthcare organizations, etc.
- Care Continuum - Taking care of all kinds of healthcare, including essential, acute, and post-acute care.
Benefits of video consultation
Virtual or online health programs will affect the general wellness index of the country in five ways:
- Expansion of Clinician and Consumer Access: The access to doctors and consumers will increase rapidly as the internet goes deeper into the masses.
- Efficiency Improvement: Online video consultations will save the patient’s time, energy, and money while allowing the doctor to attend to more and more patients in a given time-frame.
- Consumer Experience: When a patient gets enough time and focus from the doctor, he will be more satisfied and confident about the national healthcare system.
- Better Clinical OUtcome: Home-based telemonitoring will reduce the chances of fatal health issues like heart attacks to a significant extent.
- Better Care Coordination: Most physicians expect the quality of care to improve with better coordination through virtual care platforms.
How Will It Change The Response To Diseases?
We all witnessed how COVID-19 disrupted the basic healthcare delivery system. Most doctors closed the non-emergency services and started operating online. A close study of this sudden shift led to some findings:
- Early Detection: Digital tools played a crucial role in the early detection of virus exposure through quick testing on a massive scale. China came up with apps and sensors that monitored body temperature and alerted the system as anyone showed initial infection symptoms.
- Better Support To Patients: The initial lessons from virtual health programs showed that such systems manage the demand for medical support more efficiently when entire countries were under lockdowns. People looking for medical assistance in problems other than COVID-19 could find required help sitting at homes. It proved that the virtual systems would be the key to managing healthcare delivery in case of any mass breakout.
These are significant findings that lay the foundation for a more efficient healthcare delivery system. It changes the way we look at the management of massive disease breakouts.
What More Lies In Future?
The virtual health programs will work on personalized healthcare in the coming years. Imagine you have a small chip or an alert system in your surroundings that monitor your body processes. It keeps a tab on your vitals and lets you know when you need to take more vitamins, when you need to control your carb intake or when your body is showing signs of stress, and you need to sleep more. These few scenarios provide a small glimpse of what awaits us in the future.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) will play a crucial role in the coming years. It will analyze, predict, and record the updated data needed to cure people. The inculcation of quantum computing will speed up the diagnosis processes without disturbing their accuracies. The decision making will be a quicker process making doctors more confident and efficient in saving lives.
What Can Indians Expect In The Near Future?
India has a unique healthcare system. Unlike the west, it doesn’t deliver through a single channel. Our healthcare systems are a combination of ancient and contemporary knowledge of medicines. Technological advancements will improve the scenarios everywhere, be it allopathy, Ayurveda, naturopathy, or homeopathy. With the vast population bubble existing in our nation, the health programs’ efficiency will increase as they deliver through these different pathological sciences.
Currently, there is a growing trend of online consultation. The number of people seeking to consult Ayurvedic doctor online is equal to those looking for surgeons and physicians online. But shortly from now, we will move from online consultations to self-monitoring systems. Imagine a system that lets you know what kind of yoga asanas your body needs today to stay fit or keep your blood pressure under control. A small monitor allows one to see when you need to opt for online ayurvedic doctor consultation and when to visit a physician or a doctor. It will all become a reality in a few years from now. We just need to keep an open mind to upcoming changes and find the best way to adapt.
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