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The future of virtual healthcare

Robert Strobl
January 17, 2022

Telehealth is not a new concept. For more than 25 years, it has been used to reach areas that couldn’t access medical care. But, at the time, the system was only scratching the surface of what’s possible.

To improve solutions to long-standing problems in healthcare, video platforms now offer opportunities to address different touchpoints in the patient’s health journey.

Undoubtedly, the pandemic has been a catalyst for digital transformation. Some hospitals went from experiencing a few thousand online consultations a year, to almost 1.4 million virtual visits in a year. The rise of telehealth has accelerated and established the digital environment as the new normal.

It's important to keep in mind that telehealth does not include only doctor visits, but also consultations between other medical experts, planning and care coordination, and virtual education and training conferences.

What is the current telehealth situation in the EU?

The progress in this sector looks bright! The EU Commission has initiated the EU4Health, raising 5 billion for the digital transformation in the health sector.

Virtual healthcare platforms have grown over 1,000% with around 20,000 medical doctors, psychologists and therapists offering online appointments via video that are reimbursed by their health insurance.

In particular, Germany has witnessed a boom in video consultations. According to KBV, the number of telehealth related calls in Germany reached:

  • 3,000 – pre-pandemic 2019
  • 203,000 – first quarter of 2020
  • 1.2 Million – second quarter of 2020
  • 2.25 Million – first and second quarter of 2021

Changes in the legislation now allow medical doctors to prescribe apps. France, in particularly, is leveraging the use of AI in health, establishing a complete electronic dataset. 

Top three priorities in Telehealth

1. GDPR compliance

Health is a sensitive topic that deals with confidential data and privacy concerns. Picking a tool that is GDPR compliant is the first step into guaranteeing a safe data transmission, elaboration and storage. It's essential to notice that while HIPAA and GDPR are pretty similar, they focus on different aspects.

HIPAA mainly regulates health sector sensitive data in the U.S. while GDPR is controlling all data concerning EU and EEA citizens.

2. Ease of use for providers and patients

Doctors, patients and institutions are looking for an intuitive product for all generations, where it's easy to exchange documents, CT scans and other data.

Easy integration into current workflows and interfaces plays a crucial role. As mentioned before, Telehealth doesn’t limit itself to doctor consultations. Medical experts, providers and educators can take advantage of its functionalities and interoperability

3. Value-based care

The current pandemic has been an eye-opener, proving how vital value-based care is in improving patient’s health. Being able to easily stay connected with your doctor, therapist, nutritionist, or social workers is an essential first step. Video plays an essential role in this process. It helps not only diagnose, but also effectively find personalised preventive solutions.

Conclusion

Improved solutions to problems in telehealth are emerging, both for consumers and health organisations. We are confident that easy-to-use and intuitive video conferencing tools will empower citizens and medical doctors to connect more.

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