Significance. In times of mandatory social distancing, the online processing of health/medical services appears to be a valuable alternative to personal care in surgeries and hospitals. The two terms are often confused or used interchangeably due to their similarity, but they are clearly distinct from one another:
Telemedicine is primarily limited to clinical diagnoses and monitoring. In contrast to this, the Telehealth-sector on technology, service and education.
The advantages of the new e-services are obvious: they enable online measurement of important vital parameters, issuing prescriptions and administering medication, professional care and nursing via video telephony, etc. - all from home. In particular, the use of video consultations and visits has proven its worth:
In view of the current corona crisis, not only doctors and carers, but also (separated) families are being optimally supported. e-Health solutions from the AAL (Active Assisted Living) area such as JAMES Video protect against infection in volatile times and offer significant added value to patients with chronic illnesses by saving them the arduous journey to the doctor's surgery. This trend already appears to be well established in the USA:
According to a study by the US website AMD Global Telemedicine 79% of patients prefer to make appointments online rather than in person. In addition, 70% now prefer online consultations. However, the European market for telemedicine and telehealth is also growing rapidly: the European telemedicine market is currently worth USD 9.93 billion and will grow to USD 19.2 billion by 2024 - that is USD 14.1% per year*.
The primary market drivers are
- Demographic change
- Cost savings
- Quality improvement
- Efficient supply in rural areas
- Staff shortage
- and the care of chronic diseases
The doors to telemedicine and telehealth already seem to be opening within the German healthcare sector: Six new focus areas are currently planned, which will be driven forward in the coming weeks and months and subsequently implemented in the healthcare system.
Despite the global popularity, both telemedicine and telehealth face hurdles that still need to be overcome for the time being. For example, there may be occasional misdiagnoses, which can also occur in face-to-face care, but have a negative impact on online consultations in particular. In addition, implementation and widespread sales appear to make integration into healthcare systems more difficult. However, in view of global pandemics, an ageing society, staff shortages, etc., telemedicine and telehealth will become even more important and necessary in the future.