Putting It Into Perspective
Say David is a young chap, tech-savvy, residing in Lagos, Nigeria, who has embraced the remote working life. He has at least 10 hours of screen-time exposure with little or no exercises in his regular daily routine.
He wakes up on a Monday morning with a fever and needs to see a doctor urgently.
He knows it would take him long hours, both in traffic and at the hospital, to see a doctor. But…
That’s where Telemedicine comes in.
The Cambridge dictionary puts the definition this way – “medical treatment that involves sending information from one place to another using computers, video, etc.”
The head-turning and mind-blowing attention Telemedicine is receiving today was heralded by a series of exciting events.
It would surprise you that the concept of Telemedicine has been around for a while. One of the earliest records of its usage was in Norway in 1920. Furthermore, a section of kind history shows us that the April 1924 front cover of the Radio News Magazine had an image that foreshadowed the future of healthcare delivery. The picture showed a doctor attending to a patient with the help of radio signals.
The first practical use record would decades later be made in the 1950s through 1960s – Albert Jutras, Montreal, Canada in 1957 and Cecil Wittson, Nebraska, the USA in 1959.
Indeed – nothing is new under the sun.
Since the advent of modern technology, the healthcare industry has concurrently experienced its fair share of improvements. Albeit, like every other industry, government around the world are setting up regulations and policies guiding its practice, especially with issues around data ownership and privacy – like the 1996 Telemedicine Development Act in California, USA
Arguably, some sub-niches of medicine can maximize telehealth usage over some others. Hence, we see the rise of Telepharmacy, Telepathology, Teleradiology.
The race to make healthcare accessible to many at a low cost has also seen the infusion of medicine with modern-day gadgets. Below is an image of an otoscope (an instrument designed for visual examination of the eardrum) attached to an iPhone.
The use case of the above device is simple, separated by miles from your physician, they can still get to run checks on your eardrum and give you feedback.
Awesome! Isn’t it?
The recent COVID-19 pandemic skyrocketed the demand for telemedicine services. in the heat of the pandemic, since the hospital clinics were crowded mainly, and people had to maintain social distancing to reduce the risk of contraction, it was only logical for patients to seek alternative means of receiving healthcare
Unarguably, historical events have enhanced telehealth’s popularity, not forgetting the need to reduce healthcare costs and ER visits, causing a domino effect of positive change. However, the 2020 surge still stands out.
In 2019, the global telemedicine market size was USD 41.63 billion in 2019. According to Forbes Business Insight, the market is projected to grow from USD 79.79 billion in 2020 to USD 396.76 billion in 2027.
The above metric indicates a rise in global adoption. In recent times, telemedicine startups have also enjoyed colossal funding.
African Market: Scepticism
Varying speculations arise, especially with some of the middle class and majority of the low class, regarding the efficacy of Telemedicine.
In Africa, especially Nigeria, many outsource their healthcare and safety to spiritual beings and forces. At best, they try to go to the hospital only in cases of emergency. So, it would take a lot of awareness and sensitization campaign, especially from the government, to see Telemedicine as a good option.
Will Telemedicine Take Over 100%?
At CribMD, we believe that Telemedicine is already the ‘now’ and will go a long way in tackling many health issues, especially with preventive medicine. However, we are also of the view that physical hospitals would continually remain relevant.
There are still several processes that would need to be carried out in brick and mortar clinics.