Telemedicine’s Popularity Grows

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Telemedicine Popularity GrowsWith the advancement in the telecommunication technology, it has become easier to reach out to the people at remote places and offer them assistance they need. Whether you are a student looking for effective career counseling or a business man looking for business solutions, every service can be procured from the comfort of the home with the help of the internet. Online chat and live support services are offered by majority of the online service providers. But can the same technology be applied to the field of medicine and health care? We have heard of online consultation with doctors but are telemedicine a possibility? Can doctors diagnose or treat a patient remotely? Absolutely yes!

Telemedicine’s Popularity Grows with Consumers, Says Intel Survey

Telemedicine’s popularity continues to grow among employers and health care executives — and now it looks like consumers are getting on board as well. According to a recent Intel survey, 72 percent of consumers said they’re willing to see a doctor via telehealth video conferencing for non-urgent appointments. And half said they would trust a diagnosis delivered via video conference from their doctor.

This and other findings from Intel revealed consumers remain optimistic about health care – at least in terms of technology and innovation. Some consumers are so optimistic about technology, in fact, that more than half believe the traditional hospital will become obsolete in the future as telemedicine’s popularity grows.

Most people appear to embrace a future of health care that allows them to get care outside hospital walls, lets them anonymously share their information for better outcomes, and personalizes care all the way down to an individual’s specific genetic makeup. The majority of people surveyed also believe technology innovation holds the best promise for curing fatal diseases — more than increasing the number of physicians or additional funding for research.

The study, “Intel Healthcare Innovation Barometer” was conducted across eight countries by Penn Schoen Berland in Brazil, China, France, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan and the United States.

Other findings from Intel include:

  • More than 70 percent of people globally are receptive to toilet sensors, prescription bottle sensors or swallowed monitors.
  • 66 percent of people say they would prefer a personalized health care regimen designed specifically for them based on their genetic profile or biology.
  • 53 percent of people say they would trust a test they personally administered as much or more than if performed by a doctor.

The latest survey is in line with other research on telemedicine. According to a report from market research firm BCC Research, the telemedicine business was worth an estimated $11.6 billion in 2011, up from $9.8 billion in 2009. Over the next five years, the market’s compound annual growth will reach an estimated 18.6 percent, with the telehospital and teleclinic segments estimated to grow at 16.8 percent during that time period.

Telemedicine isn’t a Solution for all the Healthcare System’s Problems

To be sure, there’s a lot things telemedicine can’t do, from prescribing opiates to setting a broken bone or biopsying a suspicious lump. But for antibiotics, lower-strength pain medications, antihistamines, basic dermatology, forgotten medication, and questions about whether an in-person doctor’s appointment is warranted, a doctor who is available by voice, Face Time, or Skype can be just the ticket, says Deb Loughlin, a principal at Digital Benefit Advisors in Colchester, Vt.

“They can triage stuff like hernias, which can be boring or an emergency,” Loughlin says, or suggest an over-the-counter medication that would help someone who can’t easily reach a pharmacy or is traveling outside the United States, where American physicians can’t prescribe.

Some people insist on seeing their own physicians, who have their complete medical records. Many more, however, are accustomed to having their needs met immediately through remote technology, particularly when they are nowhere near their regular physicians.

Other potential telemedicine clients include anyone who’s away from home, whether traveling, working, or going to school; college-age adults who have graduated from a pediatrician’s care but don’t yet have an adult primary care doctor; people who work in the wilderness; individuals who are used to technology driving simple, immediate solutions; and anyone who can’t easily take time away from work to visit a doctor.

A lot of people share an enthusiasm for telemedicine, it seems. According to a report from the Wellesley, Mass.-based market research firm BCC Research, the telemedicine market was worth an estimated $11.6 billion in 2011, up from $9.8 billion in 2009. Over the next five years, the market’s compound annual growth will reach an estimated 18.6 percent, with the telehospital and teleclinic segments estimated to grow at 16.8 percent during that time period.

AllyHealth’s goal is to make the cost of health care lower, especially as the cost of health care rises and high-deductible plans proliferate. This can help bring down costs, particularly with self-insured employers. Telemedicine doesn’t cost very much, but it’s an important potential way to save. The challenge is to take something that looks minor and sell it as a potentially major way to save. We want brokers to make it part of nearly every package they pitch.

The time is Right for Telemedicine

The time is right for telemedicine – it’s definitely on the rise, driven primarily by economics, but also by culture. It’s more and more supported within regulation, and insurers are being told that they need to support it.”

A variety of bills around the country, both pending and final, will allow doctors to practice telemedicine across state lines and requiring carriers reimburse telemedicine services.

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