Telemedicine Gaining in Popularity in Asia according to ReportJun 11, 2017
Telemedicine has been expanding in the rural parts of the United States rapidly due to the difficulty of finding medical professionals with an online HIM degree willing to live there and the cost savings that it brings when transportation isn’t required for homebound patients to be checked. Telemedicine is also gaining in popularity in Asia according to reports. Let’s look at the reasons why.
Rural Service in China
China has been rolling out telemedicine to bring skilled medical expertise to rural areas without having to transport them professionals across the wide, often mountainous country. China’s National health and Family Planning Commission started setting up a telemedicine network in 2013 to connect local health workers to remote experts with a bachelors in health information management. When the network is fully deployed and functional, it will be the largest telemedicine system on the planet.
China is also using the telemedicine network to send test results from EKGs and ultrasound probes generated by medical assistants to trained experts, allowing patients to receive expert opinions without having to travel to hospitals in major cities. Singapore’s mClinica is working on equipment to support this endeavor to bring professional care to rural villages and poor neighborhoods served by people with relatively little medical training.
Japan’s Efforts to Support Aging in Place
Japan is developing telemedicine networks to monitor many elderly who are homebound or have limited ability to travel at low cost. They are looking at ways to reduce medical costs in a nation with a shrinking population due to 30 years of below replacement birth rates. Eliminating the need to send nurses to visit the growing aging population saves everyone time and saves Japan’s universal healthcare system money while its economy remains in the doldrums. Singapore and South Korea are experiencing a similar “gray wave” and are looking at using telemedicine to reduce the cost of care to monitor the elderly and minimize the need for hospital stays.
The benefits for patients are obvious as well, such as stroke rehabilitation patients in Singapore using iPads for rehab instead of trying to arrange travel to a clinic. The government doesn’t need as many therapists, patients don’t have to leave their homes, and patients’ caregivers aren’t burdened by the effort of getting them to and from therapy. The cost of this service is a tenth that of conventional rehabilitation. Tele-rehab doesn’t work for everyone, but saving time and money for some patients leaves more resources for everyone without sacrificing quality of care.
Regional Awareness of Cost Savings
In Asia, the telemedicine, remote patient monitoring, electronic health records and mobile health networks are expected to approach two billion dollars by 2020. The annual growth rate is over 12%, driven by nations investing in lower cost, less resource intensive care for the under-served and the greater efficiency of limited numbers of medical staff to care for the elderly.
They can now afford to be proactive instead of struggling to meet basic medical needs for the population. And better connectivity and longer life expectancies mean they have both the reasons and resources to adopt telemedicine. The value is so well defined that telemedicine is part of the basic Smart City plan and Smart City infrastructure, which many Asian cities are implementing so they can modernize as quickly and effectively as possible.