The COVID-19 pandemic has become a catalyst for the rapid development of virtual medicine in the Western world. The conclusion was reached by analysts from the audit and consulting firm Delloite in their TMT-2021 (Technology, Media & Telecommunications) Forecast. In this article, I suggest analyzing the causes of the telemedicine boom, reviewing compelling cases, and identifying trends for the coming years.
20th-century fictionists and retro-futurists depicted a future in which humanoid robots would replace humans in routine work. They would take over machine tools, take over cab drivers, casino online and carry paperwork from point A to point B instead of humans. Paperwork seemed fundamental and irreplaceable to them. But this field will undergo irreversible change. Changes will occur because of:
- Prolonged lockdown;
- The digitalization of most areas of human life;
- To optimize.
COVID-19 to help
The coronavirus pandemic has made video visits to doctors in all developed countries “viral” since 2020. The main factor here is the safety of virtual contact. After all, when you physically visit a doctor’s office, the risk of infection increases many times over.
In a May 2020 Deloitte survey in Canada, 14% of respondents said they would favor remote consultation with a doctor wherever possible in the future.
The COVID-19 pandemic has objectively forced people previously unsophisticated in IT to learn how to use the software. But, above all, it affects people over the age of 65.
Hundreds of millions of users who had never used video communication software and equipment before started using it for the first time.
After all, many had to switch to telecommuting during quarantine. As a result, people were forced to consult with doctors virtually.
Booming investments and the “unicorn’s way”
The rise of virtual medical consultations during the pandemic has made telemedicine a trend in the past year. Digital health continues to be the most popular medical topic, along with vaccines.
Hence the increased investor interest in telemedicine startups. The statistics in this market are awe-inspiring. For example, the year 2020 broke all previous digital health funding records.
According to Grand View Research analysts, the volume of the global telemedicine market last year was almost $56 billion, with the U.S. leading the way in this area. Between 2014 and 2020, the U.S. telemedicine market grew many times over, reaching $26 billion.
At the same time, direct investments in telemedicine last year amounted to $4.3 billion, which is 139% higher than in 2019. At that time, investments in this area were only $1.8 billion.
Future virtual medicine optimism is driving a niche of mergers and acquisitions. In 2020, the largest deal in the industry was made: U.S. telemedicine provider Teladoc bought Livongo Health for $18.5 billion.
Funding market volume
Overall, 2020 was the biggest year in terms of capital investment in virtual health startups to date. Total telemedicine funding in 2020, according to RochHealth, reached $12 billion, with the average deal size in 2020 being $30.2 million.
Practice showed that it was more profitable to join already operating and growing projects with a severe portfolio in this area.
The most impressive was the mobilization by the American online fitness platform Zwift, the largest mega-fund of $450 million to date.
At the same time, the results of the first quarter of 2021 exceeded all expectations of even the most optimistic industry experts. According to U.S. analytics platform CB Insights, the total funding for digital health in the first quarter of 2021 “jumped” by 9% to a record $9 billion.
The case of Hinge Health.
U.S.-based Hinge Health raised $300 million from several venture capital and strategic investors. After presenting the funds, its value rose to $3 billion, one of the highest valuations for a private company in the digital health niche in the U.S.
Today, it is the No. 1 digital orthopedic clinic in the United States. It specializes in treating diseases in the back and joints. However, its approach goes beyond digital physical therapy. Doctors provide complete clinical care, from prevention to post-operative care. And patients have access to physical therapists, physicians, health coaches, and technology.
What’s essential: Hinge Health’s concrete return on investment has been repeatedly demonstrated in various analyses. And a three-year study of USFoods’ medical claims and standards with 30,000 participants showed total cost savings of $4,500 per Hinge Health patient due to telemedicine technology.
The virtual clinic now works with Fortune 500 companies: Boeing and Salesforce. It’s also working with 300 health insurance companies, employers, and public sector clients. In addition, during the pandemic, Unicorn’s revenue quadrupled from 2019, its customer base tripled, and not a single customer left the clinic.
The quarantine certainly affected everyone’s lives. And if you want answers to questions like “What to do in quarantine for the benefit of mental health?” you can find the answer at this link.
Virtual Healthcare: Forecasts and Trends
Today, it is safe to say that virtual health care is the healthy future of humanity. Financial and other forecasts only confirm it.
Deloitte suggests that the percentage of virtual “visits” to doctors from the total number of visits worldwide will grow to 5% by the end of this year, compared to 1% in 2019.
This figure may seem insignificant at first glance. But globally, 5% is more than 400 million visits and about $25 billion paid by patients, insurance companies, and national health insurance systems worldwide.
According to a forecast by Global Market Insights, the global telemedicine market will grow to $186.7 billion by 2027. In the U.S. alone, it will reach $64 billion by 2025. And that’s almost half of the global figure.
The other boom in telemedicine will be associated with the spread of 5G. This technology will provide fast transmission of large images and high-quality video files, improve virtual and augmented reality and accelerate spatial computing.
Last but not least, in some cases, 5G will help telemedicine go beyond diagnosis and monitoring. It will allow doctors to perform actual procedures and surgeries using ultra-low latency virtual technology.
What will happen to banks
Banks are considered to be conservative businesses, challenging to change systematically. Therefore, we do not consider service applications, which gradually transfer communications between the client and the bank into “digital.”
Banking is not just about sending money between a few individuals or legal entities. Instead, a bank is a suitcase with tools for entrepreneurial activity.
Regular bill payments, acquiring, clearing, factoring, collection, deposits, and loans are the tools every business needs, whether a kiosk with grilled chickens or a multinational holding company.
What will the bank of the future be like? Given the complex mechanism of its work and the many factors that affect its stability, the bank is a structure cumbersome and challenging to manage. So it needs a gradual and inevitable modernization because man is a lazy creature who wants to work less and earn more.
To work less, all banking processes need to be replaced by invisible robots: artificial intelligence, bots, CRM, etc. Out of this need arose the fintech business – the automation of banking processes in the old-fashioned or academic language.