Telemedicine comprises a global market worth $18.2 billion

Zion Market Research expects this number to reach $38 billion by 2022. Telemedicine is increasing rapidly in its relevance within the healthcare industry. It’s clearly successful, but what exactly is telemedicine?

The Center for Connected Health Policy (CCHP) defines telemedicine as “… encompassing a broad variety of technologies and tactics to deliver virtual medical, health and education services… ” and is “… a collection of means to enhance care and education delivery.” It includes four distinct applications.

  1. Live video: Real-time, two-way interaction between a patient and a provider.
  2. Store-and-forward: Transmission of recorded health history through a secure. communication system outside of real-time to evaluate or render a service.
  3. Remote patient monitoring: Personal health and medical data stored and transferred.
  4. Mobile health: Health practice and education supported by mobile communication.

Did you know?

Roughly 97% of patients are frustrated by hospital wait times and 75% of non-telemedicine patients are now expressing interest in telemedicine. Telemedicine is quickly growing its relevance as it is reducing ER patient wait times by 15 minutes.

Debunking the Telemedicine Myths…

The benefits of telemedicine are clear. Though some remain skeptical, here are four common misconceptions.

  1. Myth: Telehealth Removes the “Human” Element

Truth: While this may sometimes be true in a physical sense, not every patient requires a physical exam during every visit.

  • Patients receive constant, real-time care from providers with access to the patient’s updated medical records.
  • Telemedicine serves as a convenient follow-up option for check-ins that don’t require a physical exam, such as monitoring chronic disease or post-procedure patients.
  • Telemedicine extends the doctor-patient relationship and ensures continuity of care.
  • Fewer patients are lost in the process of follow-ups with appointments being able to be set, rescheduled, and attended with greater ease.
  1. Myth: Telehealth Technology Is Complex

Truth: Most telemedicine solutions rely on consumer-grade tablets, mobile phones, computers which staff and patients already own and know how to use.

  • Mobile apps and patient portals using consumer-grade devices enable patients to schedule their own appointments, request refills, and view lab results.
  • Store-and-forward technology and other types of mobile communication help garner quick and efficient collaboration.
  1. Myth: Telehealth Can Be Hard to Bill

Truth: Most payers and states now have formal telehealth definitions and reimbursement policies, as does Medicare.

  • 48 states and Washington, D.C. provide Medicaid reimbursement for some form of live video telemedicine.
  • Thirteen states cover store-and-forward fees and twenty-two states cover other telemedicine technologies.
  • Nine states reimburse for all of the above (Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Virginia, and Washington).
  • Over 20 states have passed a mandate requiring private insurance reimbursement for telehealth services and more states have pending pro-telehealth legislation.
  1. Myth: Telehealth Is Costly

Truth: Payers and health systems are using telehealth solutions to reduce costs and patients are finding telehealth more affordable than traditional office visits.

  • Enabling physicians to conduct appointments through a telehealth solution, health systems attract new patients who aren’t willing or able to make in-person visits with practitioners.
  • Telemedicine helps increase the bottom line by reducing appointment cancellations, improving patient flow, and monetizing after-hour consultations.
  • Telemedicine attracts new patients and helps to retain existing ones by making access to care easier and less expensive.

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