Since home visits to emergency clinics, on-demand health care has always been a popular product. The modern patient expects access to their doctor 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and today’s doctors can use telemedicine for medical consultation online. In reality telehealth has existed for much longer than most people have thought, since the first half of the 20th remote health solutions were available.
When did telehealth start? Telemedicine history timeline
In the early 20th century, radio revolutionized communications. Inspired by the sudden importance of radio in everything from entertainment to national defense, innovators soon began to imagine how physicians could serve patients through radio. A 1924 radio news magazine featured an illustration of a doctor treating a patient via a video call titled “Radio Doctor”.
In one context, in the 1940s, in Pennsylvania, X-rays were sent 24 miles between two communities via a telephone line in the world’s first example of electronic transmission of medical records. A Canadian physician was inspired by this technology in the 1950s and built a teleradiology system that was used in and around Montreal.
As these practices spread, so did movies, and with the advent of modern film technology, serious plans for video drugs emerged. The first people to use video communication for medical purposes were doctors from the University of Nebraska. The university set up a two-way TV installation in 1959 to broadcast information to medical students across campus, and five years later partnered with the state hospital for video conferencing.
Today, telehealth technology serves many rural communities without access to local physicians and is the basis of University of Nebraska research. In the early 1960s, telemedicine also appeared in urban communities and entered the world of emergency medicine. The University Of Miami School Of Medicine teamed up with the local fire department in 1967 to broadcast ECG beats at Jackson Memorial Hospital in rescue situations. Remote medications have officially taken to the streets.
Telemedicine has become popular in rural areas, where populations with limited access to health care have been able to reach professionals from afar. In the 1960s and 1970s, the United States Department of Health, NASA, the Department of Defense, and the United States Department of Health and Human Services invested time and money in telemedicine research.
One of the best government ventures that contributed to the evolution of telemedicine has been the coordinated effort of the Indian Health Service and NASA. Named the space innovation applied to rustic Papago’s Advanced Healthcare (STARPAHC), the task gave Indians at the Papago Reserve in Arizona and space travelers in circle admittance to medical services. The microwave work sent X-beams, electrocardiographs and other clinical information to and from the general well-being emergency clinic.
Innovative projects like STARPAHC have spurred research in medical technology, leading to the rapid growth of the use of telecommunication technologies for health purposes. In the following decades, research in this field became popular among universities, medical centers and research companies, with more creative and ambitious projects following the leadership of STARPAHC.
The evolution of telehealth devices
The telehealth devices used today are similar to previous telemedicine equipment, but modern health technology is smaller and has a wider range of functions. Wearable devices such as fitness bracelets and heart rate monitors are an early example of mobile health tools that monitor vital patient data in real time.
Smart glasses and smart watches are already popular among doctors and will soon be used to rid them of bulky papers. Stanford medical students are co-founders of Augmedix, a digital healthcare facility that uses Google Glass to automatically transcribe medical records during a patient’s study. Concepts like these, which may now seem fantastic to doctors, will one day become commonplace, just as modern telemedicine seemed an extravagant idea in 1924.
Fortunately for the telemedicine industry, there is still a lot of unexplored territory. Both private and public research companies are investing heavily in telemedicine, so the technology is evolving almost faster than doctors can handle.
What will telemedicine look like in 2030?
The COVID-19 crisis has brought telemedicine into the spotlight faster than has ever been possible. Patients stay at home, which means nurses and doctors use remote care management technology.
Now with the current pandemic, tools like “the CDC Facilities COVID-19 Screening” help screening people who show specific symptoms.
The telehealth platforms used today may be a bit basic. However, the industry will change radically in significant ways in the coming years. By 2030, telecommunications will be completely transformed and become a defining aspect of the medical industry. But what will it look like?
Things are uncertain, but certain aspects of telehealth will certainly stand out.
1. Better access to products
A few years ago, the most important factor in deciding which medications to buy was what your local pharmacy had at its disposal. In the midst of the digital transformation in the industry, companies are searching the Internet for the drugs they need.
Although general-purpose digital pharmacies are not yet the norm, specialized suppliers are thriving. Leading is Nurx, a fully online contraceptive provider. Thanks to the digital format, Nurx offers more than 100 different types and brands of contraceptives. This provides patients with access to medications that suit them. The future of medicine is about patient choice, and the telehealth offers them more opportunities than ever before.
2. Greater diagnostic accuracy
It may seem unintuitive: How can you increase diagnostic accuracy when patients are out of the office? In any case, the reality is TV channels. Although many technologies do not work optimally, a number of programs will be widely used in the coming years to help diagnose outside the office.
Research published in The Lancet has shown that artificial intelligence is just as good at diagnosing patients as human doctors, and in some cases better. As symptom monitoring and tracking platforms become more sophisticated and popular, remote diagnostics will become more common. Better diagnosis means more specialized treatment, fewer personal visits and better quality care.
3. How telehealth help reducing healthcare costs
In 1960, the average American’s annual health care costs were $160, nothing compared to the nearly $11,000 it costs today. As medical costs continue to outweigh wage increases, people need ways to reduce costs as low as possible without sacrificing their well-being.
The telehealth platform eVisit reports that hospitals using its service can reduce the number of admissions by 19% and the use of beds by 25%. These cuts can save hospitals huge money; medical practice will benefit even more. Whether it is treating more patients or reducing overhead costs, telecommunications can drastically change the cost of running a doctor.
4. Greater availability of experts
Specialists are a critical part of any healthcare system, providing care that other physicians may not be able to provide. Relatively small professionals book months in advance. They can also be too far away from patients seeking their expertise, which is a dangerous combination for those who need it.
Telehealth frees up the doctor’s schedule because they can see more on a particular day. Distance is not a big factor in television: experts can meet patients around the world. With an average meeting time of almost a month, telehealth platforms are needed more than ever.
5. Rise of wearable devices
Portable health devices are already a billion-dollar industry. Integration with telehealth will take the growth of the industry to new heights. Affiliated healthcare company VivaLNK found that nearly two-thirds of people would buy and use a wearable device if it meant fewer doctor visits.
Even now, wearable devices can detect unusual heart activity and other medical abnormalities, but advances in technology will allow them to detect even more in the years to come. This will provide relief to those who want to stay out of the doctor’s office while maintaining good health.
Just a few years ago the idea of getting good medical help without getting up from the couch would have seemed absurd. This is a reality for many who use telehealth today. The future of the industry is not entirely certain, but one thing is: doctors are going home.