The inception of telehealth and telemedicine first began over five decades ago. However, since then, rapid changes in technology have transformed online healthcare from a mere experiment to a complex integrated service strategically used by medical professionals across the globe.
This practice and service have only increased after the required social distancing from Covid-19, with the global telehealth market size projected to be worth around $224.8 billion USD by 2030. In line with the above, we listed below some of the common medical professionals available for online consultation.
Medical practitioners you can consult with online
Online pharmacists review and prescribe medication to patients at home. This convenience can benefit seniors or those with disabilities, as the service allows for one’s medication to be delivered by mail or picked up.
However, multiple authorities have reported the illegal proliferation of false prescriptions via the Internet. Worldwide Interpol operation Pangea XIV had thousands of fake online pharmacies shut down in France last year, alongside the seizure of fake medicines worth $13 million in the UK and recovering at least 500,000 fake surgical masks in Italy.
It is thus essential to do your research and make sure that the website or service in use is linked to a legitimate pharmacy.
In some areas, nurse practitioners can work independently in their own offices. As mid-level practitioners, they are authorized to provide patients with urgent, primary, and specialty care.
Synchronous telehealth services have been growing in popularity amongst nurse practitioners for their convenience in delivering urgent care services, and the demand for these NPs is rapidly increasing. In the United States, Iowa is providing new opportunities for remote nurse practitioners to make up for the shortages in hospitals and nursing homes, and this number has only been increasing in other states as well.
With the data proving the efficiency of telehealth services, numerous studies point towards enhancing the nurse practitioner curriculum precisely to improve telehealth competency. We will be seeing more nurse practitioners in the near future.
Psychologists and Psychiatrists
From counseling to clinical, psychologists help individuals struggling with their mental health. They offer a range of services, the most popular being psychotherapy after thorough diagnosis.
Online therapy sessions became widely popular to mitigate the limits of social distancing from Covid-19. Our previous article on Warning Signs highlights the indispensable benefits these services provide for individuals to manage their everyday lives.
On the other hand, psychiatrists are medical doctors. Unlike psychologists, they are authorized to prescribe medication and provide other physical treatments (e.g., electroconvulsive therapy) to address mental health concerns.
While physical treatments are often done in person, medication plans can be provided via online psychiatric services, which helps address the high demand for professional treatment internationally.
However, many countries still face difficulties in supplying this demand. 50% of hospitals in South Africa don’t even have a psychiatrist available. Policymakers must take action and develop a mental health strategy to deal with the systemic backlogs from chronic under-investment.
Otherwise, we will inevitably see solid growth in the overall field of telehealth. Research predicts that the standard of care will include telehealth as a necessary aspect of one’s health journey. This has already manifested in healthcare legislation in America, where states like Arizona have a unique telemedicine parity law that requires private payers to reimburse for telemedicine.
The possibilities remain endless as the industry moves forward, but telehealth is here to stay.