According to the World Bank and World Health Organization (WHO), half the world lacks access to quality care . Without drastic action, the WHO estimates that 5 billion people will be unable to access healthcare by 2030 . Even in the most developed countries, people face barriers to care, such as high healthcare costs and imbalances in supply and demand.
Of course, accessibility is a vast and complex issue that healthcare providers are tackling in many ways. But to give one example of how providers are innovating to maximize access, a promising area is teledentistry – which gives people all over the world a chance to be seen, consulted with and treated before problems get worse – even in remote locations.
Advances are also being made in provider-to-provider telehealth. One example of this is in image acquisition, where expert specialists can remotely guide less experienced peers from anywhere, while the peers themselves stay close to the patients. Just like with teledentistry, this can mean patients don’t have to travel for miles in order to receive specialist care.
Another innovation that we recently helped to develop at Philips in order to improve access to care is the Virtual Care Station: a pod-based telehealth environment that delivers virtual-care services in convenient neighborhood locations like retail premises and town halls. Once inside, patients sit in a private room and have a virtual chat with their healthcare provider supported by a high-quality camera, lighting, and speakers.