By Dr. Ari Bernstein
Telehealth is growing in popularity and becoming the preferred option over traditional in-person doctor visits for many. The telemedicine market was valued at $45 billion in 2019 and is expected to grow to $175.5 billion by 2026, according to a recent report from Statistica. Telehealth has been hailed as the future of medicine, which is evident now more than ever given how the COVID-19 pandemic has largely restricted in-person health care and changed the typical American lifestyle.
I am passionate about the telehealth industry and recognize how it can revolutionize American health care. I am devoted to growing the telemedicine industry and am investing in companies that can help reduce healthcare costs for patients while making it easier for them to receive quality, preventative health care.
A Little About Me
I’m a physician, I did my residency in internal medicine, and I’ve worked in hospitals and ERs, covering rehab floors to intensive care units
I studied at St. George’s University School of Medicine and Long Island University, and I’m now an investor in CovidMD and Fruit Street Health.
CovidMD is a telehealth company that was built in response to the pandemic so patients can be assessed from the safety and privacy of their homes.
Fruit Street Health is the only CDC recognized and endorsed virtual diabetes prevention program that helps people lose excess weight and decrease their risk for type 2 diabetes.
My Vision For Telehealth
My interest in telehealth really started after I suffered a personal injury. I experienced back pain off and on for years, but between a busy and demanding medical residency and raising a family, my pain just continued to worsen.
I eventually ruptured a disk in my back that left me out of work for five years and I was told I would likely never walk normally or work again.
By 2015, I was trying to figure out what I would do with my life if I could no longer practice medicine, and I was thinking about telehealth even then. I was thinking, ‘if I can’t walk again, I could see patients from my computer!’
Then, I met Laurence Girard—the founder and CEO of Fruit Street Health. He messaged me over LinkedIn and we met for coffee where he told me all about his mission to connect with patients conveniently and privately online in the form of telehealth. I was immediately interested in what Laurence was trying to build. I believed in his vision and I knew it could be the future of medicine.
Five surgeries and a spinal fusion later, and today I miraculously can walk and function normally again. I even spent time working in multiple traditional medicine avenues again, including as an ER doctor.
However, I still believe in telemedicine and was one of the first investors in Fruit Street Health, where I currently serve on the medical advisory board. I now devote my time professionally to growing Fruit Street Health and CovidMD.
Why Telehealth Is the Future of Medicine
My experience as a medical resident and working as a doctor heightened my awareness of the flaws of the American healthcare system. Western medicine is generally more reactive than proactive, and lacks emphasis on disease prevention; therefore, patients with conditions such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, and heart disease visit doctors after they have already developed these conditions. Today, this same population is at high risk for COVID-19 as a result of poor overall health and weakened immunity.
Patient empowerment and education are needed to prevent these conditions in the first place, which can be achieved with telehealth, through things such as remote monitoring. Telehealth has the potential to completely overhaul the American healthcare system and help it evolve from a reactionary system to a preventive system.
Additionally, telehealth offers many other benefits to patients, like the ability to consult with doctors conveniently from their computers without taking time off work or time away from family, it can cut costs for patients, expand access to care and more.
It also has the potential to alleviate the COVID-19 situation and empower the world to beat the pandemic, since telehealth reduces patients’ exposure to infectious viruses by keeping them safely in their homes.
Telehealth is the need of the moment, but it is also key to the future of medicine even after the pandemic has ended. And I believe it is up to inventive entrepreneurs and doctors to change the system.