The boom in telemedicine caused by the Covid-19 lockdown will continue when restrictions are fully lifted giving investors access to a multi-billion dollar growth market, according to research from ROBO Global.
The index, advisory, and research company said telemedicine - where technology such as video calling, text or telephone is used instead of making a visit to a GP practice or hospital - was a fast-growing market worth billions of dollars.
It said significant subsections included chronic condition management and mental health, which it added could be worth up to $20bn. It added, more surprisingly, use among the elderly was also another large potential growth market.
ROBO Global launched the index for the Global Healthcare Technology and Innovation ETF HTEC, which gives investors exposure to healthcare innovators including Quidel, Moderna, Regeneron, Teladoc and Ping An.
The US-based company conducted a survey of 1,105 Americans on the use of telemedicine and its potential future growth. It found the pandemic had tripled the number of active users and 93% said they would use it again.
Senior research analyst Nina Deka said: "This is the first time in history the majority of people have been directed to use telemedicine rather than in person visits.
"In the near term use has tripled in the last two months and 93% said they would use it again. This is here to stay."
Deka explained while the study is solely based on the US healthcare system, the growth in telemedicine in the UK has also developed significantly during lockdown and could be adopted even more effectively in the "single payer" system.
According to BBC analysis published in April, just seven out of every 100 patients in England were seen face-to-face during the early stages of lockdown. It added fewer than 1% of appointments were done via video link last year and described the change in GP's methods of working as "a dramatic shift".
Deka pointed out many of the consultations (18% of those discussed during the survey) thus far have been taking place on everyday tech platforms such as FaceTime and Whatsapp which do not comply with the "nuances of data privacy".
She explained compliance with healthcare data standards, which have been legally set aside in the US during the Covid-19 pandemic, will return once lockdown is over and, therefore, tech providers who deliver compliant platforms are a massive potential growth market.
"In our view, the 18% of visits that took place on consumer apps represent a segment of providers who will need to invest in a telemedicine platform that meets data security standards or stop doing remote visits.
"If the federal government continues to support telemedicine visits following the pandemic, we believe that providers will make the necessary investments in the new platforms.
"This will create another growth driver for telemedicine vendors like Teladoc, Amwell, MDLive, and Doctor On Demand."
Performance data from ROBO Global showed the Healthcare Technology and Innovation ETF's fund net asset value was up 3.9% year to date, up 3.2% in the past three months and 16.9% in the past four weeks as of the end of April 2020.