The business video industry has always had a special relationship with the healthcare and education verticals. This is due to two key factors. First, the ROI of video in those settings is obvious and compelling that professionals in those fields are generally excited about video’s potential. Secondly, those verticals, by nature, are often open to being early adopters and beta testers for new technologies. As a result, we often see new video solutions in colleges and hospitals before we see them anywhere else.
When I think of the benefits of video in the healthcare setting, I tend to think first of increasing access to a limited pool of doctors. Patients may have to travel vast differences to see particular specialists. Video allows these doctors to help a lot more people. The same logic applies to education. You can only fit so many students in a lecture hall for the superstar professor’s class. Video expands the reach of these professionals to a larger community.
Recently, while researching new video services I came across Talkspace and started thinking about the flip side of the coin. It seems obvious, but with all the attention on expanding the reach of doctors we should also appreciate how video increases access to patients who are housebound or have limited mobility.
Talkspace is an app-based service allowing users to message a therapist or meet with one over audio/video. The ability to text your therapist 24/7 is certainly interesting, and may be far more helpful than weekly sessions for many people. However, texting can only go so far. The ability to meet over video could really create options for people with certain conditions. Agoraphobics and people with similar social anxiety conditions can be housebound by their afflictions. In addition, the elderly may find multiple trips to the doctor to be a strain. Shifting some medical visits to video could reduce physical and psychological stress for many types of patient.
While the telehealth discussion is nothing new, it appears that actual implementations have been picking up steam in recent years. This would be a natural result of the vast improvements in quality, reliability, accessibility, and ease of use in video products and services. In other words, telehealth was always a given. The question was a matter of when the technology would catch up with user requirements and expectations. I think it’s exciting that telehealth is no longer limited to expensive trial implementations in fancy surgical centers. Telehealth now is as available on the app store on your phone, and it still feels like we are still in the beginning stages.
One big question is how quickly this warm embrace of video technology will expand beyond the telehealth and education sectors. Will this model be followed by the other professional service providers in our lives? I already meet with my accountant over video. Perhaps in a few years meeting with lawyers, doctors, and accountants over video will be the norm and in-person meetings will be only when necessary. Considering how stressful a trip into those offices can be for many people, video seems like a natural solution.
Regardless of where the future takes us, after so many years of hype and talk, it’s nice to see this great expansion of new telehealth services. It’s always exciting when the promise of a technology comes to fruition, but in this case, it’s actually making an immediate and positive difference in people’s lives.