The rise of telemedicine and its impact on the travel industry

Discover the benefits of telemedicine and why it may be changing the way we see a doctor forever. Plus, learn how a growing acceptance of telemedicine can benefit overseas medical assistance.

Telemedicine is when medical care is delivered remotely using telecommunications technology. It allows a medical professional in one location to consult with a patient in another location via phone, video or app.

Improved security and technology, even for those who don’t feel computer savvy, is making telemedicine more accessible. The market is predicted to reach US$186.5bn* by 2026.

With benefits for both patients and health care professionals, we look at the advantages.

Benefits of telemedicine

  • Convenience

Telemedicine allows a patient to see a doctor from the comfort of their own home. Making it easier to fit appointments into any busy schedule. It also helps those who feel more comfortable opening up in their own environment or those who normally avoid face-to-face visits.

  • Saves time

A patient saves time by not having to travel to a health provider’s location. Equally, a medical professional saves time not going on house calls. It’s believed the average patient saves 100 minutes on doctor visits, by opting for a video, rather than in-person, call.

  • Reduces costs

Telemedicine also allows both patients and health care providers to save costs. An estimated US$305bn** is saved annually in the US.

  • Patient satisfaction

Some patients feel telemedicine meets their needs as effectively as visiting the doctor. One study found patient’s concerns are resolved 85% of the time, compared to just 64% of in-person visits.***

  • Family and friends support

A family member or friend can help a patient supply information, ask questions or take notes, without even being in the same room.

  • Controlling the spread of infections

One of the most obvious benefits right now is helping to reduce the spread of infectious viruses. The coronavirus pandemic has impacted the health sector in so many ways. Telemedicine is no exception.

Covid-19’s impact on telemedicine

As the demand for medical appointments increased, but face-to-face interactions needed to decrease, telemedicine became the perfect solution.

So it’s no surprise that its usage increased during the pandemic.

But what is interesting, is that strong uptake, favourable perception, and technology investments, indicate that telemedicine is here to stay.

As patients and medical professionals become more familiar with using telemedicine, and the technology continues to advance, it can play a key role in delivering medical assistance to travellers.

Telemedicine's role in the travel industry

Telemedicine gives tourists, expats, students and workers easier access to medical assistance when travelling, studying or working abroad. It potentially lowers some of the challenges of receiving medical treatment when away from home, such as language barriers or unfamiliar practices. It also plays an essential role in the assessment of a patient’s medical condition, for those who normally avoid seeking seeing medical advice when in a foreign country, or for those in remote locations.

So as people become more comfortable with receiving medical advice remotely, they are less likely to think twice about using it when abroad. We're already seeing its impact.

Travel Support’s VP Strategy and Growth, Cecilia Ryttergaard, comments,

“Travel Support has seen the number of those wanting to use telemedicine grow recently. By both patients and doctors. Where it was once used mostly for feeding back test results, it’s increasingly being requested for consultations. More customers, such as insurance companies, are contacting us as they want a provider who can supply telemedicine with ease”.

The future of travel and telemedicine

Covid-19 has decreased the amount of travel that people are doing right now, but when it picks up again, we’re sure telemedicine will be more commonly used for successfully delivering medical assistance overseas.

Telemedicine is one of the medical assistance services that Travel Support offers across Europe. If you'd like to know more about it or our full travel support services, don't hesitate to get in touch.

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Sources: *, **Federal Communications Commission, ***American Well