In theory, telehealth reduces visits to healthcare professionals and solves a lot of issues for patients—geographical isolation, long queues in the waiting room and the discomfort of physically traveling to a doctor’s surgery when sick could potentially be eliminated. However, Adam Gale, president of KLAS, admits, “Despite the enormous promise of telehealth, the underlying technology needs to evolve faster.”
KLAS jointly-conducted a recent survey which asked 114 high-level professionals at telehealth companies for their opinions on the current technology and limitations that underpin remote healthcare. Respondents listed slow reimbursement and non-existent integration between electronic medical records and the telehealth vendor as major pain points.
On a more positive note, improved patient access was listed as a major benefit of the emerging technology. Additionally, the range of telehealth wearables and diagnostic tools shows a lot of promise—from the comprehensive medical exam offered by the connected health system of tools by Tyto Care, to the USB stick that allows for home-testing for HIV with 95% accuracy.
With autonomous cars on the future horizon, we could also be seeing self-driving clinic rooms embedded with sensors to gain accurate biometrics of patients. However, minimizing these logistical burdens for patients comes at a cost: while cheaper than the traditional doctor or hospital visits, more people may seek remote healthcare because it is easier to use, and in turn actually drive up healthcare costs. We’ll have to wait and see if telehealth joins on-demand 3D printing of drugs and medication delivery by drone to completely revolutionize the future of our healthcare.