The stethoscope was invented 201 years ago in 1816 by René Laennec in Paris, or possibly thousands of years earlier by the ancient Egyptians! We all know from any visit to a nurse or doctor that the simple “analog” stethoscope remains today a key tool for healthcare professionals who can quickly interpret anomalies from listening to heart, lung, abdominal and other body sounds. So, what happens in Telehealth systems when the doctor is remote and is connected digitally over the Internet by video and audio to the patient?
In our last blog post, (a peek at the future of healthcare) we considered the key drivers behind innovation in the health care industry. Telehealth has seen explosive market growth in recent years and shows no sign of slowing down. Despite its enormous potential for growth, the healthcare industry faces regulatory challenges that impede innovation.
Since the 1996 introduction of HIPAA, (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), the healthcare industry has become highly regulated. The scope and complexity of healthcare regulation has made it incredibly difficult for organizations to adopt new technologies. Compared to other industries, they have been relatively slow to adopt technological innovations as a result. This trend has manifested itself in the adoption of the public cloud, BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), and even the storage of online health records. With this in mind, one can assume this trend will repeat itself when it comes to browser based real time communications powered by WebRTC.
When you think about the hottest startup or innovation sectors, one may naturally think of artificial intelligence, Cloud computing or robotics. And you wouldn’t be wrong. But one you might be surprised to hear is right up the top of that list is Health, and specifically on demand health.
In a revealing study by Accenture, covered in this Forbes article, the growth of the on-demand health sector is second only to ride-sharing when it comes to attracting investment. Investment in on-demand health services is projected to reach $1 billion in 2017, up from only $200 million in 2014. According to Accenture, “healthcare is the fastest growing on-demand sector , representing one-sixth of total U.S. funding from 2010 to 2014.”
In today’s hyper-connected world, individuals are increasingly looking to online services and solutions to give them more flexibility in their day-to-day life. Industries across the board are now operating online to meet the needs of today’s consumers and make their services more accessible – from e-commerce through to banking.
The healthcare and wellness industry is no exception. Patients can already visit the doctor virtually through their smartphone, or communicate with a specialist on the other side of the world without leaving the comfort of their own home.
But one area which has traditionally relied on physical presence has been exercise. You have to go the gym to get fit, right? Not any longer. This status quo is being disrupted by technologies such as WebRTC and embedded communications, where real-time video makes working out from home not only possible, but also personalized, effective and enjoyable.
Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen a huge number of innovative organizations across many verticals integrating real time communications into their websites, apps or devices to create new forms of communication and collaboration. Healthcare and, more specifically, telehealth is an industry in which we have seen a considerable amount of innovation.
We know that the global Telehealth landscape is rapidly changing and will continue to experience significant growth in the next few years. The US will be in the forefront of this shift with a projected annual growth rate of 56%.