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December 23, 2021updated 19 Jul 2022 12:32pm

The pandemic has increased the use of virtual health application services

Offering services through digital and virtual methods removes many barriers that prevent access to healthcare.

The traditional healthcare model is changing to a more proactive, predictive and wellbeing-focused system driven by digital health acceptance, consumer engagement and empowerment. However, cost is still a major factor in digital transformation initiatives, as many tools are both costly and inaccessible, and significant change requires significant investment.

Many digital health technologies struggle to gain credible evidence as their methodologies are time-consuming, costly and complex, hindering their widespread adoption. Given the associated time constraints and the somewhat limited data on the safety and efficacy of some digital health technologies, investors remain hesitant, citing the unclear return on investment as an area of concern. As health expenditure increases and patients become more engaged and involved, virtual health interventions will play an important role in meeting demand. This will require a significant overhaul to ensure that integrated community and home-based medical care is available to all, with a future healthcare model focused on prevention, wellbeing and early intervention.

Digital healthcare services are becoming increasingly vital

Offering healthcare services through digital and virtual methods eliminates many barriers that prevent patients from accessing healthcare. Virtual healthcare services eliminate or greatly reduce the need for patients to travel and take time off work, and can lower overheads and ultimately reduce the costs to patients. Not all healthcare services can be offered digitally, but many primary and chronic condition care elements can be managed through telemedicine and remote patient monitoring (RPM). Telemedicine solutions can serve both patients and providers but face increasing competition due to the Covid-19 pandemic limiting in-person healthcare services. Competitive solutions will offer low costs to patients, get providers reimbursed for their services, and include retail-technology sensibilities that patients are already familiar with and trust in their everyday lives. Brand loyalty and trust will be critical to surviving post-pandemic competition pressures.

Remote patient monitoring will grow in importance

RPM is just one application of internet of things (IoT) sensors in healthcare used for virtual application services. As the population of digitally savvy patients who own smartphones and personalised hardware grows, RPM will become more feasible. RPM devices have demonstrated their potential to improve patient care, reduce hospital admissions and readmissions, and facilitate early discharge. As patients and caregivers are increasingly given the option for care to be provided at home, unnecessary visits to healthcare establishments will be avoided, substantiating a decentralised healthcare model and optimising the allocation of resources in hospitals and clinics.

With growing ageing populations globally, and increased life expectancy battling dwindling finances and resources, key markets for RPM technologies include the management of chronic disease, pain management and mental health disorders. These areas are currently underserved and account for some of the highest spending in healthcare. With the increasing interest from tech companies in the health space and interest in reimbursement of RPM technologies, RPM is likely to trigger significant change.

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