These are times of change in the healthcare model. The Covid restrictions forced both public and private healthcare to adapt and offer their services through new technologies. Until then, non-face-to-face care was rare and by no means the preferred option for citizens. But the pandemic has brought telemedicine to the forefront.
A study by the consultancy Deloitte on the advance of telemedicine worldwide claims that this year there will be more than 400 million virtual doctor consultations worldwide. To understand the magnitude of the change introduced by the coronavirus, the report states that in Spain before the pandemic, 9 out of 10 visits to the doctor were face-to-face. During the months of confinement, telemedicine was the only option for most patients.
This year there will be more than 400 million virtual doctor visits worldwide.
These were months of accelerated transformation in both the public and private sectors. Health insurers had a head start, as most had remote care services, mainly via telephone, as well as applications to manage administrative aspects such as authorisations for medical tests or arranging appointment times. However, the pandemic required a major effort to meet the needs of their customers in the only way possible. The big question is what will happen in the future and what will be the real weight of remote medical care.
The available data suggest that telemedicine is booming and will continue to do so. From being something marginal, although growing, the experience of the pandemic has allowed both doctors and patients to discover the possibilities of this modality, especially of video consultations, which until then were very much in the minority. The Deloitte study shows that in September 2020, with mobility restored, only one third of users physically visited their doctor. In contrast, 30% continued to use telemedicine exclusively. However, these figures are still conditioned by the fear of the virus.