Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Virtual clinics - breaking the boundaries of onsite vs. online

Web-enabled medical care has become very popular in recent times and many big healthcare brands are now associated with this business model. As per reports from BCC Research, the telemedicine market will hit $27.3 billion by 2016. The whole concept of a virtual clinic is very interesting. Basically this involves few specialist doctors or medical practitioners who are highly devoted to their profession, a virtual interactive platform and few technologies that support this collaborative atmosphere. These health portals give patients the ability to discuss the preliminary symptoms with the doctors or specialists online and take necessary advice to take further steps. However, few people suggest that online examinations should not be allowed unless a patient has made an in-person visit to a doctor first.

Service providers in this segment, often emphasize on how experienced and skilled their doctors are and how quickly they respond to their patients' queries. Spreading the awareness via word-of-mouth is very crucial in running these clinics. Although there is a up-rise trend of telemedicine based portals and physicians' forums, patients and their relatives often feel hesitant in discussing the medical issues in public. Hence, these forums and portals should emphasize on educating doctors about the appropriate ways to use these types of digital networks to communicate sensitive information about patients.

The concept of virtual clinic is evolving rapidly and social media will soon become an integral part of the conversation. Digital media is transforming the doctor-patient relationship empowering patients to seek out information and make more informed decisions. Digital platforms leverage the patients comparing care options and its outcomes. While doing so, patients become informed and educated advocates of their own care and put more control in their hands. Patients can get real-time information through these portals about medications being recalled or outbreaks detected. Physicians can push this information out to patients within seconds through a simple tweet or a comment. Young physicians, grown up surrounded by technologies such as computers, smart phones and social media, are more adept at utilizing these avenues and perhaps more open to it. There are increasingly more reasons to adopt tele-health as a solution for a variety of healthcare crises and issues.

Irrespective of challenges like patient privacy or return on investment, digital media is transforming the concept of healthcare. In recent times, we have seen more and more health related apps are being designed, more health blogs are being authored, and more web-based technologies are being developed. Soon this trend will enhance the conventional healthcare system we will see more and more clinics on the cloud.

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