It is without a shadow of a doubt that telemedicine was the champion of the health technology sector during the pandemic, allowing patients the ability to receive consultations and treatments by their doctors without the need for in-person appointments.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought with it a tidal wave of technological acceleration across all forms of the tech sphere, with telemedicine leading the line from 2020’s $14.8 billion investments in digital health fundraising, according to a report by Mercom Capital Group.
The report highlighted that while equity investments in telemedicine rose 139 percent to $4.3 billion, other areas like data analytics and mobile health apps also earned strong support from investors.
But while news over MedTech investments took over headlines – telemedicine was also categorized as one of the most cost-effective technologies for the healthcare industry as it is set to save $21 billion globally by 2025, driven by teleconsultation services and rising from $11 billion in 2021, a new report by Juniper Research stressed.
This represents a growth rate of over 80 percent in the next four years. The concept of telemedicine involves the remote provision of healthcare services and includes technologies such as teleconsultations, remote patient monitoring and chatbots.
The research identified teleconsultations, a service that enables patients and physicians to interact remotely, as a key service that will enable these significant savings. “However, it cautioned that savings would be restricted to developed nations where access to required devices and Internet connectivity is prevalent,” the report noted.
As a result, it predicted that over 80 percent of savings will be attributable to North America and Europe by 2025.
Deregulation of telemedicine
The new report, Telemedicine: Emerging Technologies, Regional Readiness & Market Forecasts 2021 2025, estimated that over 280 million teleconsultations were performed in 2019. However, this rose to 348 million in 2020, owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It anticipated that the activities of third-party healthcare service developers will be crucial in accelerating the deployment of emerging telemedicine services and increasing the uptake amongst healthcare providers.
However, the report predicted that the significant investment into integrating telemedicine services, and the requirement of data protection, such as HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) in the US, will discourage adoption amongst smaller healthcare providers.
To foster the adoption of telemedicine services, the report recommended that healthcare regulatory bodies continue to deregulate telemedicine services to minimize any remaining barriers to entry for smaller healthcare providers.
“Any deregulation must ensure that patient confidentiality is not undermined. Additionally, we recommend that innovative and emerging teleconsultation services are integrated into existing healthcare technologies, such as electronic health records, to maximize their benefits to healthcare providers,” research author, Adam Wears, remarked.