Telemedicine has become one of the fastest growing areas of the healthcare industry. Healthcare providers are taking telemedicine to new heights which has caused tremendous changes in the healthcare industry in the last decade. This rapid growth of telemedicine has provided us with means to generate revenue, cut costs and improve and enhance patient satisfaction.
“Telemedicine has evolved dramatically over the past few years, and providers have come to realize the profound ways in which it can improve patient care,” said Steve McGraw, CEO of REACH Health. “With this evolution has also come the increasing sophistication of telemedicine practitioners. Doctors, nurses and administrators now desire easier integration, clinical adaptability and configurability, support for multiple specialties on a single comprehensive platform, and robust data collection and analytics.” . REACH Health is a leading provider of enterprise telemedicine solutions.
Officials say the telemedicine patient monitoring market grew from $4.2 billion in 2007 to $14.3 billion in 2014. Driving force for this accelerated growth of telemedicine technology is the growing consumer demand for more affordable and accessible care. Misconception that telemedicine creates a financial strain or relies on grant funding is also rapidly changing. Healthcare providers are taking steps to provide a better home monitoring system for the patients so that the frequency and duration of hospital visits can be reduced.
Five key technology trends has been identified that will also contribute in telemedicine’s continued growth and advancement of healthcare industry:
Better reimbursement and easy payment options:
"The home healthcare and remote location health monitoring market is different from the hospital market, in large part because reimbursements are lower or are just beginning to take hold, and for some products are still nonexistent," said Melissa Elder, Kalorama analyst and the author of the report, in a press statement. "Unit costs will go up as older units are replaced with wireless, handheld and ambulatory devices."
Private and government health system providers are taking measures to upgrade telemedicine coverage as patients get adapted to the telemedicine services. New laws requiring coverage of telemedicine-based services have been implemented at the state level. Providers seem willing to alter their payment models based on consumer requirements which in turn will boost the telemedicine advancement.
Global ties to be revised and reformed:
North America is the largest market globally in the telemedicine industry. They are expanding their healthcare expertise abroad by formulating connections between US healthcare providers and foreign providers. This overseas cooperation will make telemedicine based services more accessible to patients internationally. According to the American Telemedicine Association, more than 200 academic medical centers in the U.S. already offer video-based consulting in other parts of the world. Even though many of these programs are still on a small scale or experimental basis, providers are planning and hoping for an advancement in 2016.
Promoting State level telemedicine expansion:
Currently in US, state government is holding an upper hand in the expansion of telemedicine technology. The District of Columbia and 29 states have enacted laws demanding that health plans cover telemedicine services.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is considering involving telemedicine in Medicare coverage and also a bill will soon be passed that would pay physicians for delivering telemedicine services to Medicare beneficiaries in any location. These two recent developments are sprouting interest at the federal level also.
Increase in number of retail and worksite clinics:
As a result of healthcare reform, the percentage of employers providing onsite medical clinics is increasing readily, also many are planning on incorporating this service in their employee benefits in the coming years.Studies suggest that nearly 70 percent of employers will offer telemedicine services as an employee benefit by 2017.
Moreover people are willing to go to retail medical clinics and pay out-of-pocket for the convenience and advantages of telemedicine services when it is not covered by their insurance.Hence many more enterprises are offering these facilities due to the increasing need of telemedicine based services.
ACOs in accord with telemedicine for better healthcare facilities:
Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) are a group of doctors and healthcare providers aiming in delivering high quality care to medicare patients. These organisations are ideal for the progress of telemedicine technology. In a recent study it was found that only 20% of ACOs are using telemedicine services. But a next generation ACO model that was unveiled recently will provide ACOs with more freedom to use telemedicine ensuring better monitoring and care for patients. Hence this will lead to greater use of telemedicine among ACOs.