“Connectivity is productivity – whether it’s in a modern doctor’s office or a patient’s own living space”
Remote consultation refers to modern forms of communication applied in healthcare. Special applications are required to bridge the gap to communication methods suitable for both healthcare providers and patients .
Applications & benefits
Remote consultation provides remote contact, removing the need for a specific location and time. This saves (travel) costs and time and allows for consultations and work processes to be organised more efficiently [2, 3]. Applications will partially replace direct and personal contact [4, 5]. It offers various applications for users to discuss their health status, for the promotion of healthy behaviour, creation of networks and exchange of information and medical data in real-time . As the technology bridges physical distances, new possibilities emerge for patients facing reduced mobility and in remote or difficult to reach areas. It also extends seniors’ ability to keep living independently .
The total market value of telehealth is expected to grow from $62.5 billion in 2020 to over $475 billion in 2026, at a growth rate of 26% annually . Explosive growth accelerated by the current corona pandemic, among other factors . In 2019, 68% of GPs (and 33% of medical specialists) in the Netherlands offered the option to ask a medical question via secure email, patient portals and apps. This percentage rapidly grew to 85% in May 2020 as a result of the corona crisis . In addition, 62% of Dutch GPs implemented video calls because of the corona crisis. Just under 10% of GPs had been offering remote consultation services before that time but intensified its use . Telehealth platforms that offer real-time virtual healthcare services, such as American Well, witnessed a 1,000% increase in visits as a consequence of the pandemic. And the number of telehealth users in the US grew by around 4,000% between March 2019 and March 2020 .
Increased awareness and growing acceptance
Stimulating legislation and regulations
Increasing pressure on the healthcare system
Lack of awareness and reluctance
Limited digital skills
Lack of interoperability
The interoperability of various remote consulting systems and software needs to improve to facilitate effective applications. In addition, several visual aspects are lacking in remote consultations which reduces the healthcare professional’s ability to examine a patient for visual physical symptoms [13, 14]. Still, acceptance of remote consultation is on the rise. Both patients and healthcare professionals are getting used to video calling, in part due to the corona crisis.
The market for remote consultation is diverse and developing rapidly . In the future, patients and healthcare professionals will be communicating virtually more and more and patients will be gaining more control of their own healthcare process. The healthcare system will have to adapt properly while taking into account the needs of all parties involved. This will make healthcare more personalised and participatory. Healthcare costs are reduced, quality is enhanced and the experiences of both healthcare professionals and patients are improved. In the end, remote consultation stimulates the evolution towards the empowered patient.
- Solomon, M. and Rolle, T., 2021. Four Factors Driving the Momentum of Telehealth Adoption. [online] Point-of-Care Partners. Available at: https://www.pocp.com/hit-perspectives-factors-driving-telehealth [Accessed 25 August 2021].
- Greenhalgh, T., et al., Virtual online consultations: advantages and limitations [VOCAL) study, 2016. 6[1).
- Hazzam J, Lahrech A. Health Care Professionals’ Social Media Behavior and the Underlying Factors of Social Media Adoption and Use: Quantitative Study
J Med Internet Res 2018;20[11):e12035
- Canosa, S., 2019. The Danger of Social Media for Healthcare Professionals. [online] Healthecareers.com. Available at: https://www.healthecareers.com/article/career/social-media-healthcare-professionals [Accessed 25 August 2021].
- WHO/Europe. Strengthening the health system response to COVID-19: Adapting primary health care services to more effectively address COVID-19. Technical working guidance #5. Copenhagen: WHO Regional Office for Europe, 2020. Available at: https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/ handle/10665/332783/WHO-EURO-2020-727- 40462-54321-eng.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y
- Ramasubbu, S., Social Media & the Healthcare Sector, 2017 [Available from: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/social-media-the-healthcare-sector_b_58f856cae4b081380af518ee]
- Weigel, G., 2021. Opportunities and Barriers for Telemedicine in the U.S. During the COVID-19 Emergency and Beyond. [online] KFF. Available at: https://www.kff.org/womens-health-policy/issue-brief/opportunities-and-barriers-for-telemedicine-in-the-u-s-during-the-covid-19-emergency-and-beyond/ [Accessed 25 August 2021].
- Zivver.com. 2020. 8 redenen waarom eHealth nu zo belangrijk is. [online] Available at: https://www.zivver.com/nl/blog/8-redenen-waarom-ehealth-nu-zo-belangrijk-is [Accessed 25 August 2021].
- Global Market Insights, Telemedicine Market Size By Services, By Type, By Specialty, By Delivery Mode, Industry Analysis Report, Regional Outlook, Type Potential, Competitive Market Share & Forecast, 2019 – 2025, 2020 [Available from: https://www.gminsights.com/industry-analysis/telemedicine-market]
- Nictiz, Samen aan zet! eHealth-monitor 2019, 2019
- Tuyl, L. van, Batenburg, R., Keuper, J., Meurs, M., Friele, R., Toename gebruik e-health in de huisartsenpraktijk tijdens de coronapandemie. Organisatie van zorg op afstand in coronatijd, Utrecht: Nivel, 2020
- Grandviewresearch.com. 2021. Remote Healthcare Market Size & Share Report, 2021-2028. [online] Available at: https://www.grandviewresearch.com/industry-analysis/remote-healthcare-market [Accessed 22 August 2021].
- RC PSYCH ROYAL COLLEGE OF PSYCHIATRISTS. 2021. Remote consultations and COVID-19 | Royal College of Psychiatrists. [online] Available at: https://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/mental-health/treatments-and-wellbeing/remote-consultations-and-covid-19 [Accessed 2 August 2021].
- The Health Foundation. 2021. How are total triage and remote consultation affecting prescribing patterns? | The Health Foundation. [online] Available at: https://www.health.org.uk/news-and-comment/charts-and-infographics/how-are-total-triage-and-remote-consultation-affecting-presc [Accessed 2 August 2021].