Telemedicine is a hot topic in healthcare and a big focus for IT companies providing software solutions for the medtech industry. The telemedicine market grows fast, creates a lot of new opportunities and appears to have a promising future. But will telemedicine overcome the challenges it faces in today’s increasingly competitive business world?
The Telemedicine Market Today
There is great potential in the telemedicine market. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that the number of ambulatory care visits exceeds 1.2 bn per year. In 110 million cases, personally visiting the patient is not really required, such as when patients need an extra prescription or just have a cold. We should keep in mind that remote consultations are just one of the segments of the global telemedicine market. On this scale, they have opened up huge opportunities.
In November 2015, Transparency Market Research published a report in which experts analyzed the current state of the telemedicine market and presented a forecast. According to their data, the global telemedicine market in 2014 amounted to $14.3 bn and will reach $36.3 bn by 2020; thus, we can expect a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14.3%.
These results were confirmed by the analysts of another research company – Mordor Intelligence.
The largest market for telemedicine is the U.S., which comprises 40% of the global volume. However, the European market is catching up. Its growth here has also been incredible. In 2013, according to experts, the telemedicine market penetration rate was 30%, and by 2020 the market reach will rocket up to 50%.
According to PWC, the largest segment of the telemedicine market will be health monitoring (65%). Patients will be mostly interested in solutions that enable tracking of the main physiological parameters, especially after surgery, in cases of chronic illnesses and for patients undergoing physiological changes because of their age.
The telemedicine market has opened up great opportunities for a number of players, including equipment manufacturers, software developers, health care institutions, and patients.
Implementing telemedicine technologies in health care institutions means cutting the number of patient visits, reducing the time patients spend in in-patient facilities, the possibility to provide personalized care, better diagnostics, and improving the overall quality of health care. Consequently, it leads to cutting costs and increasing profits.
Patients, in turn, can monitor their health at home, receive specialized health care even when they are physically located in remote regions, and control their drug regimen – all of this helps improve patients’ quality of life.
The development of new technologies, such as the Internet of Things and 5G, as well as better access to mobile solutions, contributes to the improvement of telemedicine and mHealth solutions. It is not a coincidence that the number of companies that focus on mHealth solutions keeps growing. This includes mobile devices for fitness and wellness and medical devices for clinical use, such as ECG devices, blood pressure monitors, and blood glucose meters, as well as solutions for the transfer of medical information.
The Main Challenges That Slow Down Telemedicine Development
It looks like a perfect picture. Everyone wins: hardware suppliers and software developers, clinics and patients. However, not everything is positive in the world of telemedicine. The main challenges that slow down the further development of the telemedicine market include the following:
- The lack of skilled professionals who can control telemedicine systems in a high-quality and timely manner;
- Challenges related to interoperability and the standardization of devices and technologies in telemedicine;
- An underdeveloped regulatory framework and the lack of international standards, which result in a larger number of unsatisfactory and unreliable solutions;
- The unpreparedness of the patients to use the new type of health care (to some degree, this point is related to the previous one);
- Data protection and confidentiality;
- Telemedicine services are often not covered by insurance.
Solving these problems will increase the telemedicine market penetration rate.
Vyacheslav Vanyulin, Auriga’s General Manager, says,
Eliminating such bottle-necks as the lack of skilled personnel, interoperability, and a regulatory framework will encourage this segment’s development and contribute to the use of telemedicine in all health care institutions in the world. At the same time, we should not forget that the end users are patients and physicians. This means that telemedicine solutions should be compact, user-friendly and easily accessible for individual users, so that neither physicians nor patients have any issues with using these solutions. That’s the approach we use in Auriga when developing telemedicine solutions for our clients.
Auriga’s Experience in Telemedicine Solutions Development
Auriga has been providing software development services for the medtech industry for over 12 years. The company has always made it to the list of top-10 IT services providers for healthcare according to IAOP’s Global Outsourcing 100 rating. In 2015, Dräger Medical, one of the global leaders in the area of medical equipment manufacturing, named Auriga “Supplier of the Year” in the “Services” category.
For many years, Auriga has been participating in the development of a system and embedded software for medical equipment, including patient and respiratory monitors and infusion pumps. Lately, our clients have shown an increasing interest in mobile solutions (including wearable devices for health monitoring), remote health control, and hospital information systems integrated into the hospital’s infrastructure, including telemedicine systems.
One of the latest solutions Auriga has worked on was a consultation and remote monitoring system based on multi-tier distributed SOA architecture.
This system is integrated with HIS, PACS, and EMR and enables the transmission of clinical records, lab results, prescriptions, images, clinical parameters, monitor data, and treatment plans and can control physicians’ schedules. Additionally, cloud storage and interoperability with other devices, such as patient monitors, X-Ray machines, CT and MRI scanners, ultrasound machines, and ECG devices, have been implemented. The solution developed by Auriga’s engineers is compliant with the HL7 standard.