How telehealth maturity can keep pace with its growth

17 August 2021 3 min. read
More news on

Telehealth was a cornerstone of the pandemic response last year, and will likely continue to soar through the future as well. A new Nextcontinent presents the state of the segment, and how it can reach maturity.

Life went online during the pandemic last year: infection risks and lockdowns put physical proximity out of the question, so people turned to virtual means for everything – from groceries to accessories and, where possible, healthcare. 

Examples abound of society going online for medical reasons. In France, the number of online consultations with doctors jumped from 38,000 in February 2020 to 4.5 million by April 2020. Italian healthcare companies launched the Telemonitoring for Medical Surveillance of Chronic Diseases – using connected devices to monitor and analyse vital patient data. 

How telehealth maturity can keep pace with its growth

The UK saw more than half of its GP consultations move online last year – compared to around 20% before the pandemic. And many more innovative, tech-based responses popped up around the world, as healthcare systems grappled with treating regular patients amid a Covid-19 onslaught.

The result is a boom in market value. December 2020 research from market research firm Fortune Business Insights predicted a 25% plus compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for telehealth between 2019 and 2027 – amounting to a staggering jump from a market size of just above $61 billion to nearly $560 billion.

With the segment set to take centre stage, stakeholders are trying to lay down some parameters. The World Health Organisation has defined telehealth as “the delivery of healthcare services, where patients and providers are separated by distance.”

“Telehealth uses ICT for the exchange of information for the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and injuries, research, and evaluation, and for the continuing education of health professionals,” adds the WHO. Nextcontinent researchers have broken this vast pool into five telehealth categories: consultation, treatment, diagnosis, intervention and monitoring. 

A combination of high demand and regulatory interest will likely propel the segment to new heights. That said, the report suggests that this growth needs to be monitored and strategised – to ensure healthcare digitalises with a degree of maturity. For starters, the segment needs to put customers – or patients – at the heart of its development going forth. 

“Digital transformation is not simply about technology. It is about adopting a change management process enabled by technologies to increase the benefits for patients and the healthcare system as a whole,” explained Tammy Graves, a Principal Consultant at Point B – a member firm of the global Nextcontinent network.

Graves added how a multi-stakeholder approach is required to meet these objectives. “The entire healthcare system must heed this shift and work together to integrate telehealth into care and business models to deliver a true consumer-centric model.”

“Government and reimbursement need to support the health technology industry in developing and testing new telehealth solutions that are simultaneously safe and agile,” she concluded. Interoperability of tools, omnichannel value chains, and patient integrated care are all key pillars of a successful telehealth landscape.