Digital health is on the rise, while telemedicine emerged as one of its strongest trends. The rise of telemedicine was largely triggered by the pandemic, transforming healthcare delivery in response to the rise of remote work and strict social distancing measures. Fortunately, the pandemic is now over, however, the telemedicine market continues to grow and is expected to reach $185.66 billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 25.8% from 2019 to 2026.
So, is telemedicine the future of healthcare, and what innovations will shape it? In this article, we will analyze the latest trends in telemedicine and discover the opportunities for emerging healthcare startups.
Current Tech Trends That Shape The Future of Telemedicine
In 2023, telemedicine startups can leverage the latest trends and opportunities in the industry to develop innovative solutions that meet the evolving needs of patients and healthcare providers.
The growing use of AI and ML
Using artificial intelligence in machine learning isn’t the newest trend in telemedicine. However, it is still one of the strongest and future-shaping ones, so it would be safe to predict that new telemedicine startups will harness the power of this technology to address the unique challenges of remote healthcare delivery, improve patient outcomes, enable preventive care, help doctors make data-driven decisions and create personalized treatment plans.
For example, Babylon Health, a UK-based telemedicine startup, uses AI-powered chatbots to provide patients with 24/7 access to medical advice and triage services. Another startup, Viz.ai, has developed an AI-powered platform that analyzes medical images to detect and alert physicians to potential strokes in real-time, enabling faster treatment and better outcomes.
Mental and behavioral health apps Growth
The growing popularity of mental and behavioral health mobile apps is also one of the recent trends in telemedicine that were largely triggered by the pandemic. In 2022, the global mental health app market was valued at $5,2 billion and is expected to grow at 23,9% CAGR from 2022 to 2030.
In 2023, the mental health niche is still a popular sector for telemedicine app development. In addition to the convenience, accessibility, and anonymity they provide, mental health apps become especially effective when powered by machine learning algorithms. For example, Wises uses a conversational AI chatbot that is trained by evidence-based cognitive behavioral therapy data. It helps users with improving mental resilience by providing personalized support through anonymous conversations.
While AI isn’t going to replace human psychologists anytime soon, AI-based mental health apps have emerged as one of the strongest trends in telemedicine, offering a viable solution to those users who may feel uncomfortable seeking help in person.
Adoption of virtual and augmented reality
Virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) are believed to be the future of telemedicine technology since they have the potential to completely transform the ways healthcare and medical services are delivered. The main advantage of these technologies is that they allow telemedicine app developers to create immersive environments that are as close to real life as possible. Providing medical care in an augmented or virtual environment, in turn, allows for significant cost-cutting and increased accessibility for patients.
By using VR/AR technology, healthcare providers can offer remote consultations, reducing the need for patients to travel to a hospital. This can be particularly beneficial for patients who live in rural or remote areas, or those who have mobility issues that make it difficult to travel. For example, this value proposition is at the heart of XRHealth – a solution that provides remote physical therapy for post-surgery or post-injury patients.
Using blockchain for better patient data safety and interoperability is also one of the current trends in telemedicine, and the impact of blockchain on healthcare is expected to grow. It is projected that by 2031, the value of blockchain technology in healthcare will reach $16,3 billion, compared to $531 million in 2021.
By providing a decentralized and encrypted record-keeping system, using blockchain can prevent unauthorized access, tampering, or theft of patient data, plus give patients more control over their own data. It can also facilitate interoperability between different medical systems by providing a unified platform for medical data storage and sharing. For example, Simply Vital Health is a blockchain-based solution that allows healthcare providers to share patient data securely by leveraging a transparent record system.
Actually, medical care has always been personalized to some extent – one can’t treat a person without knowing their specific symptoms, medical history, and response to allergens at least. However, the data-driven approach that is at the core of telemedicine allows for personalizing medical services as deeply as possible. For example, such telemedicine apps that take into account the results of genetic testing, medical history, and patient’s lifestyle can significantly improve a patient’s outcome by giving the doctors a data-first picture.
Creating solutions with predictive analytics in-built is also one of the emerging trends in telemedicine. With their help, doctors identify patients who are at high risk for certain complications and develop personalized treatment plans before a certain condition becomes critical.
When it comes to the most exciting telemedicine future trends, using 3D printing has the potential to revolutionize the field of telemedicine by enabling more personalized and precise medical treatment. For example, with the help of this technology, it becomes possible to create custom implants carefully tailored to the patient’s unique anatomy, ensuring a better fit and positive outcome for post-organ-transplantation patients. 3D printing can also be used to create anatomic models of human organs and bones so that surgeons can practice complex operations before performing them live.
3 Major Telemedicine Gaps and Opportunities for Startups
The latest trends in telemedicine are promising and exciting but what about the opportunities that your next healthcare startup can leverage? There are several significant gaps that you can consider when looking for an idea for your project, and we, at our telemedicine software development company, would be glad to help you bring it to life.
Unequal access to telemedicine services
400 million people in the world have no access to medical services. Telemedicine applications can become a solution, especially for low-income and rural populations, in the locations where healthcare resources are distributed unevenly. Still, creating a telemedicine startup that has improving medical help access as its core value, would be highly specific. In this case, you have to take infrastructure peculiarities into account, since many developing countries have limited access to Internet networks and the devices people use there can be significantly outdated. Such solutions should also be heavily localized, and their user interface should be understandable for those with little-to-no experience with mobile health technologies.
Few specialties covered by telemedicine services
Now, telemedicine services mainly cover primary care and mental health, leaving many gaps unfilled. One example of a specialty not widely covered by telemedicine services is pediatrics. Pediatric telemedicine solutions can be an excellent way out for families who live in rural areas which can make it challenging to receive timely and appropriate medical attention. For families who are anxious about the health of their children, telemedicine can also provide a sense of reassurance and peace of mind.
Another gap your next telemedicine startup can fill is geriatrics, where there is a growing need for telemedicine services that can provide care to elderly patients who may have mobility issues or live in remote areas. So, by focusing on the specific needs of a narrowed-down target audience, your next startup will be more likely to receive funding and support from investors and healthcare organizations that are interested in addressing gaps in access to care. We, at our telemedicine app development company, would also be glad to share our latest tech expertise in building secure and reliable telehealth platforms.
Biased AI for mental health
While AI-powered mental health apps are growing in popularity, the technology inside them still may have some flaws, especially if it was trained on biased data sets. Biases in AI algorithms can lead to inaccurate diagnoses, inappropriate treatment recommendations, and other negative consequences for patients. For example, facial recognition technology that detects emotional states can be not-so-accurate for individuals from certain racial or ethnic backgrounds.
New startups can fill this gap by developing AI-powered mental health tools that are designed to be unbiased and inclusive, using diverse datasets and the professional help of mental health specialists, in addition to hiring a professional telemedicine software development agency.
The future of telemedicine promises to create a lot of winning opportunities for healthcare startups. From conversational chatbots to 3D-printed implants, the future trends for telemedicine are expected to bring medical care to the next level, significantly improving patient outcomes and helping doctors make data-driven treatment decisions. At the same time, telemedicine startup development also comes with its challenges, including but not limited to legal compliance, cybersecurity, and data privacy, so opting for professional telemedicine app development services would be the right strategy.
Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you build a successful telemedicine startup.