The world of telemedicine is very broad and it includes direct patient care (consultations, referrals) to even the delivery of medical education though the use of telecommunications technologies. There are many ways to define/segment the telemedicine market because of the wide breath of applications. We can conservatively view telemedicine as a $10 billion market. The problems right now surround technology adoption and sustainable business models.
We are in a major transition period right now and we are seeing some major challenges with adoption. Plus, the rules, regulations, and opportunities in every country varies around the application of telemedicine. You have to select the right patients who will benefit from telemedicine/telehealth. Providers and patients need to be comfortable interacting in a "virtual" environment. This will bring about improved analytics, engagement, and patient care. Telecommunications tools must get integrated into the standard clinical workflow so that they become a natural extension of health care delivery.
Here in the United States, consumer trends are also significantly impacting the telemedicine market. Patients are becoming more empowered to participate in their own health care. They are effectively "shopping around" for medical services. In many other parts of the world, the delivery of health care is so different that the application of telemedicine is a different discussion. Here in the US, roughly 20 to 40% of our medical encounters with patients could be delivered through telemedicine. Imagine what would happen to office visits if we switched the encounter to webcam + computer screen.
Doctors want to know how they can improve their clinical workflow efficiency through the use of telemedicine. But, when we think about the major barriers to adoption, we all naturally think about reimbursement. As we gain more evidence around the benefits associated with telemedicine, we will see more reimbursement models emerge. Right now, payors and providers need to have more discussions about the appropriate application of telemedicine. As business models emerge and evolve, we will eventually see sustainable models.
Plus, we need more clarification around regulations around telemedicine. There is confusion around the interpretation of HIPAA compliance, around the use of cameras to make diagnostic decisions, around the use of digital communication platforms between provider
Internationally, we are seeing advances primarily around health care access. In countries like India, Africa, and China, patients now have access to a provider because of telemedicine initiatives that leverage mobile phones. It's great to see how telemedicine is bridging many gaps in the underdeveloped nations and we are seeing some of these applications also being used in rural areas and disaster sites. Telemedicine is also helping physicians collaborate with one another through the use of secure social networking platforms.
Industry Executive Panel 1: The Telemedicine Market
4/30/12 at 8:45 am
Chief Strategist, US Public Sector Healthcare Innovation
Jasper zu Putlitz, MD
Senior Vice President
HP Enterprise ServicesATA12 coverage is sponsored by HP. HP’s extensive portfolio of products, solutions, services and relationships can help your healthcare organization achieve quality business practices and provide quality patient care.
Senior Director, WW Healthcare
Strategy and Portfolio