With an ever-expanding technology landscape and a constantly-evolving medical field, telemedicine has developed into one of healthcare's leading new trends. While medical professionals explore opportunities for digital advancement to support their patients and medical staff, major technology companies like Microsoft are committed to using cutting-edge, uniquely-designed technology to meet the healthcare needs of communities across the country—and even across the globe.
The possibility of revolutionizing access to healthcare, regardless of geography or time zone, is what drives telemedicine forward and keeps the field thriving. The global market for telemedicine is set to reach approximately $78.3 billion by the year 20251 and will likely continue to expand as tech innovation and remote patient monitoring both remain on the rise.
Industry patterns and existing limitations in telemedicine
Current trends in the field include a focus on home-based healthcare and wellness tools to add a level of convenience, accessibility, and compliance to patient treatment, in addition to a growing interest in migrating to electronic medical records. Consumers most commonly consider exploring opportunities in telemedicine for three reasons: to better facilitate follow-up care for acute illnesses, assist with system tracking or diagnosis, and offer better support for medication management.2 The medical industry has also seen a rise in doctors and physicians recommending treatments that require extended follow-ups, making digital solutions that facilitate remote communication and monitoring increasingly popular.
Despite its overwhelming potential, telemedicine has several major challenges to overcome to ensure its lasting impact on the global medical industry. One obvious challenge involves telemedicine's dependence on Internet access. Whether it's entire geographic areas or individual patients who lack Internet access, telemedicine's reliance on a resource that has restrictions limits the market's reach. Another challenge involves legal and reimbursement issues and qualifications that differ from state to state and from medical provider to medical provider. The variability also leads to a general lack of infrastructure across the market, making technology adoption and implementation a less efficient process.3
Exploring telemedicine's worldwide life-saving potential
Still, the future of the field is promising, with different avenues for opportunity being discovered and expanded every year. Video-based telemedicine alone has a satisfaction rate of 83%4—the highest of any other digital platform—and is steadily rising in popularity among healthcare professionals across the country, growing from 7% adoption in 2015 to 22% in 2016.5 Telemedicine's remote capabilities also offer nearly limitless possibilities to advance medicine across the globe and deliver world-class medical knowledge and training to underserved communities both domestic and abroad. As of 2016, more than 200 academic medical centers in the US6 offered video—based consulting in other countries, boosting telemedicine's international impact.
The field’s exponential development over the last several years also means the expansion of life-changing and life-saving medical services and healthcare practices. Technology companies can participate in the advancement of telemedicine by shaping digital solutions with real-world applications and seamless implementation and adoption processes. Microsoft is a global technology company committed to exactly that—building and delivering digital solutions to transform the reach, ability, and impact of medical professionals all over the world.