By Cigna Global Wellbeing Solutions
The engagement of medical professionals is a crucial factor in the launch, development, and ultimate effectiveness of global telehealth solutions.
Dr. Peter Mills, Associate Medical Director at Cigna, agrees: “I think one of the key factors in the success of telehealth is its acceptance by medical professionals.” He also believes that there are changes on the horizon, and that “gradually we are starting to see a shift in attitudes within the health care professions.”
Telehealth is used for consultations between clinicians and patients, and also among clinicians themselves, who employ new technologies to communicate with each other and share information, knowledge, insight, and clinical expertise. Certain medical specialities are already leading the way with telehealth adoption, particularly within fast-evolving fields.
In teleradiology, for example, medical professionals are not only seeing the benefits of working with the available technology, but are also driving the change, using technology to share, review, and analyse radiological images of patients with other clinicians, across locations., Teleradiology has now become a routine part of modern radiology, ahead of other telehealth fields.
The current global telehealth market is valued at $38.3 billion, and predicted to exceed $130.5 billion by 2025, growing at an expected rate of 19.2%. The global teleradiology market is playing a key part of that progression, with a forecast compound annual growth rate of 18.4%, leading to an anticipated market value of $10.6 billion in 2025.
Research shows that traditionally some health professionals’ resistance to telehealth has been rooted in the view that it endangers the face-to-face interaction key to the clinical care experience, compounded by a rejection of the idea that technology could act as a substitute for physical contact and in-person consults. There is also a layer of technological mistrust and a lack of conviction that telehealth will have a positive impact on the medical profession as a whole.1
“We’re in the early days of telehealth and teleconsultations,” comments Dr. Peter Mills, “and it’s quite silo-ed. I think what we need to do very rapidly is say we need to blend this; this is not an all or nothing, this is not telehealth or nothing; it’s actually telehealth as part of your longitudinal health care needs.”
A 2010 World Health Organisation policy brief supports the argument for telehealth applications having “considerable potential to effectively support the growing call for better integrated care.” Last year’s Future Health Index Reports add weight to this argument, supporting the theory that incorporating telehealth into current care offerings can lead to further benefits and “accelerate countries along the path to value-based healthcare.”
So what will drive the expected implementation of telehealth across the board going forward? “It’s going to be a generational thing; the next generation of doctors coming through are going to be much happier with this new way of interacting with patients,” says Dr. Mills. “We have a generation of doctors now who trained in an analogue world. As a new generation comes through to take the reins, I think we’ll begin to see things change.”
 Telehealth: Delivering value across institutional and geographical borders. Future health index report 2018. Commissioned by Philips
 The state of teleradiology in 2018. Diagnostic Imaging. https://www.diagnosticimaging.com/article/state-teleradiology-2018. Accessed August 02, 2019.
 Global Telemedicine Market size to exceed $130.5 Bn by 2025. Global Market Insights. https://www.gminsights.com/pressrelease/telemedicine-market. Accessed August 06, 2019.
 Joshi K, Sumant O.
Teleradiology Market by Imaging Technique (X-rays, Computed Tomography (CT), Ultrasound, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Nuclear imaging, Fluoroscopy, Mammography, and Others), Technology (Hardware, Software, and Telecom & Networking), and End User (Hospitals, Ambulatory Surgical Centers, Diagnostic Centers, and Others): Global Opportunity Analysis and Industry Forecast, 2018–2025. May 2019.
 Market study on telemedicine. European Commission. Third EU Health Programme. PWC. October 2018.
 Stroetmann A, Kubitschke L, Robinson S, Stroetmann V, Cullen K, McDaid D. World Health Organization Policy Brief 13. 2010. How can telehealth help in the provision of integrated care?
 Telehealth: Building systems for better outcomes. Future health index report 2018. Commissioned by Philips.