Telemedicine is a new segment of the healthcare sector and is expected to grow at a rate of close to 19% by 2020. Doctors use platforms provided by different companies to contact patients directly by email or webcam. Faster connections, rising smartphone use, and changes in insurance standards are some ways in which healthcare delivery has become better.
How Telemedicine helps
Doctors can consult other specialists by webcam and help treat patients with serious health issues. Patients can send information related to their vital signs and get advice on managing chronic health issues from the convenience of their homes. The reason telemedicine companies are doing well is that the practice allows doctors to help patients even in the furthest-flung parts of the country, or almost anywhere in the world. According to statistics, more than 15 million Americans got medical care remotely. In fact, even organizations like Doctors Without Borders connect with specialists in the US and other countries and treat patients in Sudan.
Telemedicine is convenient for patients too as they can get help for less serious issues like colds and skin problems. The cost of a call is just an average of $45 vs. a visit to the doctor which can cost $100 or even $750 at an ER.
A survey shows that over 60% of consumers are open to using virtual care. Major benefits listed are the convenience of 40% savings on doctor visits, easy refilling of prescription and being able to consult with skilled doctors. On the flip side, consumer concerns cover areas such as insurance coverage, data security, lack of personal relationship and poor internet connectivity.
What to expect
Telemedicine companies are tying up with providers and doctors in the areas of dermatology and mental health. Seventeen US states have signed an agreement to let doctors licensed in one state to get licenses in the other and treat patients without running afoul of regulations. There are a lot of issues which must be addressed, but this sector is expected to expand substantially over the next few years.