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Hybrid telehealth: The future of healthcare

The Covid-19 pandemic has significantly altered our lives and served as a wake-up call about what truly matters in both personal and professional realms. As a result, the value of health, whether it be mental or physical, has grown, and individuals have become more concerned about their overall well-being. 

Moreover, due to the risk of getting affected by the virus and induced lockdown, healthcare providers also started focusing on digital innovations proactively and started offering services such as remote emotional monitoring, telemedicine, virtual consultations, and e-visits, among others. However, in-person visits and consultations remained essential and hence, helped hybrid telehealth gain traction and become the norm in the healthcare industry.

Hybrid Telehealth: A New Landscape in Healthcare

The term hybrid telehealth refers to the combination of in-person care and virtual consultation care services. A hassle free and affordable healthcare model that involves assisted healthcare and makes it available to those living in distant and medically deprived communities. Though, telehealth is still in the early stages of the ever-changing era, it has made significant progress in improving care coordination, access to care specialists, convenience, and removing barriers such as cost-effective treatments, childcare, travel time, and so on in last few years. Thus, the assisted healthcare model through a hybrid approach is now ensuring an experience that is as close to a real-life in-person meeting. Furthermore, with the use of medical devices and assistance from trained staff at the site are enabling doctors to obtain data from the patient in real time, such as heart and lung murmurs (remote auscultation), blood pressure, oxygen saturation, and blood sugar levels.

Another reason for the growing demand is the rising prevalence of chronic and cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), particularly among the elderly which has further increased the demand for services like effective home monitoring systems, wearables, smartwatches, and smartphone applications for monitoring various health parameters such as blood pressure, sugar levels and sleeping patterns. Furthermore, increased digitization in India has pushed the need to improve the healthcare IT infrastructure across the country and hence is boosting the growth of the Indian telemedicine or hybrid telehealth market. It’s because of these primary reasons, as per a report by IMARC, the Indian telemedicine or telehealth market will grow at a CAGR of 30.20% between 2022 and 2027.

In a variety of doctor-patient situations, hybrid telehealth care works well. It can help a clinic’s hours of operation by allowing physicians to see patients from home or another remote location. It can also help to alleviate practitioner shortages in rural areas by enabling patients to receive checkups virtually. For instance, a patient in a rural town may require monthly visits with a specialist in a city two hours away. Admittedly, because the patient’s home internet connection is limited, video visits are not feasible. To communicate with the specialist, the patient may use a combination of phone calls and real-time check-ins. Another option is a telehealth kiosk in a local doctor’s office that allows patients to have video visits. The patient can receive needed care while reducing travel to the specialist’s practitioners using a hybrid approach that employs multiple technologies. Thus, with so many benefits and conveniences, people are adapting to it, which is why hybrid telehealth exists today and will likely increase in the future.

The Future of Healthcare

Telehealth services and in-person consultations both have advantages and disadvantages. To serve their patients, providers must consider strategies that allow them to strike a balance between the two types of care services—digital and in-person patient access to care.

Providers can speak, diagnose, treat, and prescribe medications to patients digitally by using specialized telehealth software. At the same time, this is very useful during emergencies. After the disruption of the pandemic, healthcare professionals quickly realized the need for telehealth is indeed the need of the healthcare sector that comprises a plethora of other benefits, such as reduced commute costs, accurate tracking of patients at home, and time savings. Moreover, perhaps most importantly, the creation of an accessible and convenient means of receiving healthcare. Patients, it turns out, are more likely to pay attention to their health when there are fewer roadblocks in the way of a trip to the doctor’s office.

As telehealth eliminates the need for sick or chronically ill patients to miss appointments, drive to a clinic, and wait to see a doctor. Instead, the patient-doctor relationship is emphasized, and clear communication is encouraged. Many new digital health applications and personal medical devices are already filling in the gaps where testing and physical examination are required. Hence, in the coming future, we can expect the majority of healthcare visits to take place virtually in the future, increasing the accessibility of proper health management! In this scenario, healthcare will indeed become more personalized around the patient experience, and telehealth will undoubtedly play a significant role in this.

Way Forward!

Hybrid telehealth is the result of technological advances aimed at closing the gap between demand and supply in the healthcare industry. Getting immediate care used to be difficult due to scheduling doctor’s appointments. However, with the emergence and development of hybrid telehealth facilities, scheduling an appointment or getting a consultation online has become remarkably simple. Finally, hybrid telehealth, with people’s innovation and increased awareness, will certainly become the future of healthcare.

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