Since the beginning of the pandemic, the use of telehealth has increased exponentially. And the results have been so positive that according to CNN the U.S. government is now investing millions of dollars to ensure qualified health centers can offer disease monitoring and health information services through remote means.
Remote health services are not just for government agencies and large health centers, though. It is also becoming clear that the leap forward in telehealth is giving rise to smaller companies and startups as well. The truth of the matter is that any number of different medical professionals now have the capability to provide remote treatment, either independently or within smaller, more flexible organizations.
Let’s take a look at how some entrepreneurial medical professionals are taking advantage of these changes to start or assist startups in the telehealth space.
From Obstetrician to Telehealth Chief Medical Officer
When Neel Shah started studying to become a doctor, he was disappointed by how the different limitations of the healthcare system affected most patients arriving at the hospital. He went on to become one of the most prestigious obstetricians in the country anyway, but has since decided to join the so-called telehealth revolution in search of a more effective form of patient care.
Last year, Shah became the first Chief Medical Officer at the Maven Clinic, a telemedicine service provider. He oversees the organization's health strategy and while (as he puts it) he can't deliver a baby through a monitor, he's satisfied with the organization’s ability to provide an essential aspect of healthcare in an effective and timely manner.
Full Time Nurse Practice in Tennessee
One of the biggest benefits of telehalth is that more medical professionals can work from home and this is creating a new industry that is ripe for startups. A work from home article on telehealth platform Wheel highlighted how there was a 154 percent increase in telehealth visits in week 13 of 2020 vs. the same week in 2019.
An example of the success remote nurse practitioners are now finding in remote telehealth is a profile on Wheel that tells the story of Tina, a nurse practitioner with 19 years of experience working in hospitals. She realized she wanted to try remote work in order to spend more time with her daughter. In 2020, she quit a full-time position and started offering her services independently, both in person and through a telehealth platform.
Tina knew success wasn't a guarantee, but her efforts have paid off. She has become a full-time telemedicine provider, achieving an unexpected level of freedom and effectively becoming her own nurse practitioner business. Her story highlights the lifestyle side of telehealth entrepreneurism.
That is to say, in addition to pure opportunity to provide business (and generate profits), telehealth also provides healthcare workers with the chance to pursue richer lifestyles through their own ventures.
Read also: Ways to invest in your health.
Expanding Access to Healthcare in Africa
While it's true that the pandemic had an enormous effect on the popularity of telehealth, many companies had begun using some version of this form of care years ago. Rocket Health, for example, launched back in 2012 as an online medical consultation service in Uganda. Today, it's a fully integrated digital health solution looking to expand across East Africa.
CEO Davis Musinguzi explained his plans to the TechCrunch tech blog, conveying a focus on expanding the number of people who have access to medicine in the region. Relatedly, current estimates are that there are only 0.23 doctors per 10,000 people. Rocket Health may not be able to single-handedly address this issue, but it at least stands ready to make sure that more people have access to proper consultations via digital means.
Collecting Patient Data through Wearables
Huma is a startup that uses different wearables to gather data from patients. Information like oxygen levels and heart rate are uploaded to a mobile app, enabling doctors to provide medical advice based on data they wouldn't normally be able to collect remotely.
The idea exemplifies what’s great about telehealth, and has earned support from corporations like Bayer, Hitachi, and Samsung to the tune of $130 million in investments. Currently, Huma works with health service providers from Britain and Germany, and has committed to treat Covid patients for free.
From private doctors and nurses to full startups seeking multimillion-dollar funding, telehealth is proving to be fruitful ground for new ventures. And without a doubt, we are still only seeing the very early stages of what will eventually be a great deal of innovation in this space all around the world.