Medical Dictionary defines telehealth as “the use of electronic information and telecommunications technology to support long-distance clinical health care, professional health-related education and administration.” Before COVID-19, telehealth was indeed meant for just long-distance. Now, however, it has become the preferred mode of consultation for millions of Indians. That is because of a robust internet infrastructure, low data costs and companies like Practo and Onsurity.
Now, it is almost normal for doctors to diagnose and offer advice over the internet. Not only is it safer, it also makes quality healthcare more accessible for those in rural areas. These places, which have historically been denied access to quality healthcare, are now at par with major urban metros thanks to telehealth.
Evolving Consumer Behaviour
Just how popular is this revolutionary technology? According to PWC India, “India ranks 2nd among developing countries” for adoption of telehealth (or mHealth/telemedicine) services. A 2020 research by Ernst and Young (EY) found that 64% of patients are willing to use such digital health services.
That demand is driven by evolving consumer behavior. Modern consumers no longer see healthcare in isolation, it is now part of their daily routine. Driven by digital wellbeing apps and wearable technology, consumers are taking a more active interest in their healthcare.
These changes have presented the healthcare market with a huge opportunity. Now, not only are their more potential customers in the market, but the demand for niche products and services mean that there are more opportunities. Riding on this wave, telemedicine has become the new normal.
Policy Changes to Accommodate Telehealth
Following consumer demand, government organizations have taken notice. Maybe a few years ago, doctors and services would be in the dark over the legality of telehealth. Now however, that is not the case. The Medical Council of India and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MHFW) have taken notice, and actively introduced policy changes to accommodate telehealth.
Anyone can access the telemedicine practice guidelines on the MHFW website. These guidelines not only provide legal protection to digital healthcare organizations but also answer several critical questions around data privacy, ethics, consent and affordability. In fact, India was one of the first Asian nations to introduce guidelines for telemedicine, way back in 2005. That foresight has helped the nation avoid more COVID-19 cases, with people turning to telemedicine as a safe and legal option over visiting hospitals.
It is easy to dismiss the rise of telemedicine as result of the COVID-19 pandemic. What about a post-COVID world? The reality is, that when we do emerge from the pandemic, services like telemedicine will not see a fall in demand. That’s because people will prefer the accessibility and affordability that these services offer.
With that reality in mind, Indian businesses are busy building an ecosystem that will live on in a post-COVID world. Right now, digital healthcare is offered through a number of apps and services. The EY report stated: “healthcare will be driven by an ecosystem approach and offline, disintegrated means may not suffice in the future.”
In essence, consumers will have access to a single app or portal for all their healthcare needs. That’s where we at Onsurity are heading, to provide a single portal for employee healthcare plans.
Telehealth and Employee Healthcare Plans
It’s not just the average Indian, even companies are demanding more health and wellness tools for their employees. The EY report also found that 81% of employees would prefer full healthcare coverage from their employers. Healthcare is not just a security measure, but a comprehensive wellness, prevention and security plan.
That’s where we come in. Here at Onsurity, we are building a platform that provides employees with a comprehensive healthcare plan. Keeping in mind the evolving consumer demands, we have built our platform with tele-consultations and access to online medical stores.
The single unified platform is the future of telehealth, and we at Onsurity want to make sure SMEs and start-ups have access to that. That way, no matter how big or small your company, you will be able to offer employees the same employee healthcare benefits as large corporations.
Onsurity’s monthly employee healthcare plans are not just more economical, but flexible as well. To find out more, visit our website today.