For most of 2020 and a large portion of 2021, we have the importance of social distancing drilled into us. While an important measure to help keep us safe it impacted all aspects of a life we became used to, including our interactions with healthcare professionals, including how our children interacted with their pediatricians. For many, the rapid adoption of telemedicine apps meant children could still receive care while remaining as safe as possible.
Bridging the Access Gap
The boost to the reputation of telehealth during the pandemic helped others see the possibilities the technology offered. Many turned these possibilities into great financial opportunities, however, pediatric telemedicine apps have the unrivaled ability to help bridge the access to medicine. Telehealth solutions for pediatrics generally reach 100% ROI in ~6 months (it depends on the number of visits, the number of pediatricians providing telehealth services, etc.). This is particularly true for granting more access to medical care in rural areas.
Rural areas, whether in first-world or third-world countries, pose unique problems to the medical community. While the problems of access to healthcare in third world countries have been well documented. Telemedicine can alleviate many of these problems, but this will require access to affordable devices and broadband internet infrastructure designed to serve rural areas.
In countries that have both broadband internet and access to affordable devices one of the major benefits pediatric telemedicine apps offer is to ensure long travel and wait times do not leave some children behind in terms of care. Hospitals in rural regions cover a far wider geographical area than those in urban areas. The vast area can make bridging the distance between caregivers and the ill difficult. Telemedicine offers an opportunity to treat the patient at a distance without the need for the child’s parents to worry about the distance and time taken to get to the hospital and possibly join a waitlist.
Evolving Regulatory Framework
Due to the sensitive nature of the data handled by pediatricians, several questions have been raised on how telemedicine can meet regulatory requirements. Fortunately, regulatory bodies like the Federal Drug Agency and the European Medicines Agency have seen the potential benefits of telemedicine to bridge access gaps and reduce costs that they are working with developers to ensure regulatory compliance.
For developers, this will still mean that security and the strong encryption of data between patients and pediatricians will still be a priority. Best practices determined by legislation like HIPAA will still need to be followed as the regulations are intended to protect patient data. That being said, opportunities in the telemedicine space abound despite regulation.
The rapid adoption of telemedicine during the global pandemic may have come with teething problems but as investment begins to pour into the space the technology is expected to evolve rapidly to meet growing demand.