6 Major Trends Boosting the Telemedicine Market in Health Care

The number of medical visits carried out via telehealth grew from 840,000 in 2019 to 52.7 million in 2020.

With the growing use of innovative technologies in the health care sector, global telemedicine market value is set to increase substantially. The concept of remote patient monitoring is gaining traction broadly among medical professionals and patients alike due to the convenience it offers for diagnosis and treatment.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a significant uptake in the demand for telemedicine solutions caused by patient cancellations of in-person appointments during the rapid spread of the virus. Across the world, hospitals and clinics switched to videoconferencing for appointments to discuss diagnosis and treatment options with patients for non-critical cases. According to a report by the Department of Health and Human Services, the number of medical visits carried out via telehealth grew from 840,000 in 2019 to 52.7 million in 2020,1 which was a 63-fold increase.

Government initiatives in emerging nations have also played a vital role in improving public awareness about telemedicine internationally. For example, in August 2021, the government of India announced plans to launch a special incentive scheme that will support approximately 75 startups involved in areas such as digital health, telemedicine, and artificial intelligence (AI).2 The initiative will encourage these companies to intensify their research and development to meet various health care challenges, like that of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rising Mental Health Concerns Fuel Telemedicine Demand

While the COVID-19 pandemic brought its own set of physical health challenges, mental health issues also came to the fore during this period as well. The sudden isolation and loss of social interactions took a toll on people’s mental health globally.

In 2020 alone, there was a 25% increase in anxiety and depression cases during the pandemic, according to the World Health Organization.3 With women and young people at a higher risk of being diagnosed with some form of mental illness, the significance of telemedicine grew substantially.

Furthermore, techniques such as virtual counseling are gaining momentum among mental health patients because they are easily accessible and offer greater privacy. For example, Houston-based AccessHealth had to ramp up its telemedicine solutions during the pandemic to address and treat as many mental health disorders as possible due to the increased need for such resources.4

Teleconsulting Services Continue to Gain Traction

Teleconsultation services will capture a major share of the global telemedicine market in the future because it helps to avoid the need for elderly patients to visit hospitals or clinics in person, which can significantly reduce their risk of contracting infections. Currently, a notable portion of the world’s geriatric population remain skeptical of the safety of visiting hospitals and clinics in person due to their fear of contracting life-threatening infections on site.

Additionally, these fears are not unfounded as reports of geriatric patients leaving hospitals demonstrates that many feel weaker and more vulnerable to illness than when they first arrived.5 Because of these concerns, the adoption of teleconsultation solutions among elderly patients has increased as they are able to receive their diagnosis and treatment from the comfort and safety of their own homes without the fear of contracting an additional health problem during an in-person visit.

Government Initiatives Boost Telemedicine Uptake

Several governments are realizing the importance and benefits of opting for telemedicine services within health care and have chosen to invest in the sustained future of these technologies by promoting and supporting their uptake nationwide. Such an investment not only benefits the health care sector by improving the quality of care, it also creates job opportunities in companies that are developing and conducting online medical service technologies.

For example, Healthcare AI is receiving abundant investments from public and private sector companies to promote research and development of more robust services and technologies, which will lead to further growth and job opportunities within this sector.

Additionally, the government of Malta offered funding in November 2021 to Intpurple Technologies, an IT startup based in Kerala, India, for the development of their AI-powered health care software Felixacare.6 With this growing integration of telemedicine technologies into the health care sector, companies are working to meet the robust demand for these services among patients internationally.

Rising Incidence of Neurological Diseases

The prevalence of neurological diseases is growing at a worrying rate every year. As per a report by the World Federation of Neurology, nearly 14% of the US population suffers from some type of non-communicable neurological disease, which is estimated to triple by 2050.7

As per findings published by telemedicine solution provider Chiron Health, approximately 40% of follow-up care for neurological illnesses can be delivered through video-based telehealth.8 Virtual follow-ups and consultations can add to the convenience of patients diagnosed with movement disorders, such as Parkinson disease.

Latin America Telemedicine Industry Growth

Latin America’s telemedicine industry size is set to expand at an impressive rate over the coming years. The region is witnessing a robust growth in telemedicine appointments. Although overall health care infrastructure across the region is still in its nascent stages, there is vast potential for growth in telehealth solutions.

Furthermore, Chile and Uruguay may be set to become 2 of the key providers of telemedicine technologies internationally, with Colombia acting as an example of what this may look like due to the high success rate of telehealth solutions to date. In the first half of 2020, Columbia held more than 9 million telemedicine appointments, increasing the virtual appointments by more than 7000% compared with the previous year.9

Medical Tourism Sector Expansion

Medical tourism activities have seen a positive uptick in recent years. Several health care companies and governments alike are creating opportunities for patients to receive high-quality treatments from foreign countries.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions made it almost impossible for patients to go overseas to receive treatment, they had to turn to virtual medical platforms for their diagnosis and consultation. Telemedicine offers deferred telehealth solutions, wherein a patient can send their medical data to physicians in the form of photographs via email or web server.

This helps the physician closely review the data and create their diagnosis and treatment plans, which is electronically transferred back to the patient.10 Indian medical tourism companies have already started offering telemedicine solutions to their patients across Uzbekistan, Dubai, and Myanmar.11

The global telemedicine market outlook will continue to stay positive because of the growing inclination toward virtual health care services. AMD Global Telemedicine, Chiron Health, Teladoc, Cerner Corporation, Honeywell International, Docademic, Aerotel Medical System, and Lumed Health, among many others, are the renowned industry participants. Through partnerships, mergers, and acquisitions, these companies plan to gain a competitive edge. For example, e-commerce giant Amazon partnered with Teladoc to deliver 24/7 virtual care services through the Amazon Alexa devices.12

References

  1. American Hospital Association. Medicare telehealth visits during pandemic’. www.aha.org Published December 6, 2021. https://www.aha.org/news/headline/2021-12-06-hhs-reports-527-million-medicare-telehealth-visits-during-pandemic
  2. The Economic Times. ‘Incentive scheme to support 75 telemedicine startups’. www.economictimes.indiatimes.com. Updated August 25, 2021. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/tech/startups/govt-to-launch-incentive-scheme-to-support-75-startups-in-telemedicine-digital-health/articleshow/85626654.cms?from=mdr
  3. World Health Organization. ‘Pandemic triggers increase in anxiety and depression cases worldwide’. www.who.int. Published March 2, 2022.https://www.who.int/news/item/02-03-2022-covid-19-pandemic-triggers-25-increase-in-prevalence-of-anxiety-and-depression-worldwide
  4. Omnia Health Insights. Role of telemedicine in reducing mental health burden’. www.insights.omnia-health.com. Published October 8, 2020. https://insights.omnia-health.com/hospital-management/role-telemedicine-reducing-mental-health-burden
  5. Anna Gorman, Kaiser Health News. ‘The older you are, the worse the hospital is for you’. www.edition.cnn.com. Updated August 15, 2016. https://edition.cnn.com/2016/08/15/health/elderly-hospital-patients/index.html
  6. On Manorama (News channel). ‘Healthcare IT startup gets funding from Malta govt.’. www.onmanorama.com. Published November 26, 2021. https://www.onmanorama.com/news/kerala/2021/11/26/kozhikode-based-ai-driven-healthcare-start-up-gets-funding-from-.html
  7. World Federation of Neurology (WFN). ‘What to know about non-communicable neurological diseases’. www.wfneurology.org. Published September 1, 2021. https://wfneurology.org/brain-health-initiative/3-what-to-know-about-non-communicable-neurological-diseases
  8. Chiron. ‘Telemedicine providers – Neurology’. www.chironhealth.com. https://chironhealth.com/telemedicine/providers/neurology/
  9. FIFARMA. ‘A journey through telemedicine in Latin America’. www.fifarma.org. Published November 13, 2020. https://fifarma.org/en/a-journey-through-telemedicine-in-latin-america/
  10. Graphical Research. ‘Latin America telemedicine market’. www.graphicalresearch.com. Published September 2020. https://www.graphicalresearch.com/industry-insights/1426/latin-america-telemedicine-market
  11. Medical Tourism Magazine. ‘The role of telehealth in medical tourism’. www.magazine.medicaltourism.com. https://www.magazine.medicaltourism.com/article/the-role-of-telehealth-in-medical-tourism
  12. Hindustan Times. ‘Medical tourism companies turn to telemedicine during COVID-19’. www.hindustantimes.com. Published May 16, 2020. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/medical-tourism-companies-turn-to-telemedicine-in-wake-of-covid-19/story-YA0OpXnbjgmvZfsRoHObRP.html
  13. Forbes. ‘Amazon-Teladoc partnership a milestone in telemedicine’. www.forbes.com. Published March 23, 2022. https://www.forbes.com/sites/saibala/2022/03/23/amazons-new-partnership-with-teladoc-is-a-huge-milestone-for-telemedicine/?sh=61557a9d7f18