The rise in communications technology and telehealth is giving patients the access they need to fast and effective healthcare. There's a shift in how patients are accessing health services — our entire society is becoming demand-driven, and healthcare is no exception. The core benefits of telehealth apply across the entire spectrum of human health, and that's being driven by consumers as much as providers.
Accenture's research suggests this kind of on-demand health services will be a billion-dollar industry by next year, allowing millions of Americans to change how they meet their health needs.
What does this mean for you and me?
The Number of Apps for Accessing Care and Building Healthy Habits is Growing
Fitness is an important part maintaining our health that often gets overlooked. From many perspectives, fitness is one of the best health investments we can make in our future because it can offset healthcare costs later in life.
Personal training, a great way to find the motivation to exercise, offers several ways for people to connect and train with fitness experts:
- Vint is designed for gyms wanting to create their own branded apps to connect with members.
- TRN is available in New York and Miami letting people book one-on-one sessions with trainers, yoga teachers, and swimming coaches.
- TroupeFit, available in New York, makes its on-demand trainers available for 45-minute private sessions.
As a complement to these fitness apps, the team at Rise has created a platform letting users connect with registered dieticians. They give feedback and keep users accountable. The coaches can track a user's progress and set new goals for them.
While fitness is an obvious area for preventative telehealth, on-demand services are just as important for people with existing conditions.
On-Demand Access to Mental Health Removes the Stigma of These Pre-existing Conditions
We're seeing exciting tools that put people in touch with mental health professionals. Platforms such as CloudVisit and Talkspace offer fast access to care and improve quality of life. They're perfect for people who might not have access to counselors or who might otherwise not seek help. Companies can even build health offerings around the platforms.
The cleverly named 7 Cups of Tea offers on-demand emotional health and wellbeing therapy. They provide a safe environment where patients can talk with therapists instantly and anonymously.
Improving Access to Healthcare Professionals
On-demand health services aren't just limited to fitness and medicine. For example, last year MedCity News spoke with Honor, a business providing on-demand caregiver services in a patient's home. Talking about the service, Honor's founder and CEO Seth Sternberg said: “We thought our service would always be about a scheduled service. … Not only did [consumers] not want it on-schedule, they wanted it when they needed it.”
There's progress being made around the world — The Tech Portal reports on Pluss, an Indian startup providing personalized medicine deliveries. It's difficult to get prescriptions and other medical services quickly in India, and Pluss helps solve the problem by providing rapid access and same day delivery for medicine. Patients can also order lab tests online.
There's even a market for on-demand surgeons. Healthcare IT News reports on Prime Surgeons, a collection of “elite” surgical staff offering various routine surgical treatments. They currently offer a range of orthopedic and gynecological surgeries. They also give exact prices of procedures upfront, so patients are in control of their medical spending.
Making Recovery and Rehabilitation Easier
One other exciting area where on-demand healthcare and telehealth tech are really making an impact is rehabilitation. For patients facing weeks of clinic-based physical therapy, just getting to an appointment on time can feel daunting.
While physical therapists have been making house calls for a long time, telerehabilitation programs are going to make rehab scalable in unprecedented ways. This is particularly exciting news for Baby Boomers, who will create lots of new demand for physical therapists in the next few years.
In March, MedCityNews spoke with John Grispon, the CMO of RespondWell, a company that initially created an interactive fitness platform to help seniors stay active. Instead, the company found what it was building worked very well for monitoring the progress of knee and hip replacement surgery patients.
By using Microsoft Kinect's sensors, RespondWell's Therapy@Home system can “validate whether patients are doing their physical therapy homework, and if not, then uncover an underlying problem thwarting the patient's recovery and address it.”
Early research into telerehabilitation looks promising. A study in the Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery found in-home telerehabilitation to be as effective as in-person service delivery for patients discharged from the hospital after a total knee arthroplasty.
Telehealth is making a big impact across on-demand health services. We'll see this field grow exponentially as easy access to data and telehealth apps puts consumers more in control of their health.
Tags: Health Innovation, Telehealth