Technology Trends: Telemedicine is Still "The Next Big Thing"

Posted by Doximity TF Team

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We’ve put a spotlight on telemedicine a number of times because the technology is spreading rapidly – more than 15 million Americans received some kind of medical care remotely last year, per the American Telemedicine Association. A lot of hospitals and healthcare facilities are investing in telemedicine.

If you’re like us, though, you’ve been reading headlines like these recently: Is telemedicine dead before it arrives?; Why telemedicine is a bust so far; Is telemedicine really a bust?

Despite these headlines, in 2016, global telemedicine market was valued at almost USD 18.20 billion and is expected to reach approximately USD 38.00 billion by 2022, growing at a Compound annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of around 14.0% between 2017 and 2022.

It’s true telemedicine has been “the next big thing” in healthcare for a while now. After all, it allows for better care in places where medical expertise is hard to come by. It offers a quality, convenience, and all the makings of a healthcare love affair. But why isn’t it as popular yet as it was predicted to become?

Logistic hurdles

People simply aren’t aware that chatting with a doctor via video is an option. Or, they’ve heard the “hype” but just haven’t jumped on board (per this study from late 2017 that found 82 percent of U.S. consumers don’t use telemedicine.)

Insurance is another issue: The majority of patients say they don’t know if telemedicine is covered by their insurance. They’re also concerned that the doctors they work with are inexperienced.

Getting doctors on board with telemedicine takes time, too. After all, as we’ve written about before, there are liability worries, payment issues, licensure laws and provisions, and even the concern that electronic interactions will replace vital in-person patient/physician visits. Prepping physicians and facilities for telemedicine requires thought, too. After all, telemedicine is a whole new way for doctors to deliver care, and everything from a physician’s tie to the natural lighting can become part of your bedside manner.  

Telemed is still growing rapidly

All that being said, Millennials and even Gen Z (who are set to outnumber millennials within a year) are giving telemedicine a big boost. While older generations prefer an in-person visit with a doctor, 40 percent of millennials reported recently that telemedicine is an extremely important or very important option for their health care needs (compared with 27 percent among Gen Xers and 19 percent among baby boomers, per the 2017 EBRI/Greenwald & Associates Consumer Engagement in Health Care Survey).

The payment issue is also being addressed. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed new payment rules for 2019 includes payment for telehealth: in addition to paying physicians for their time when they check in with beneficiaries via telephone or other telecommunications device, CMS also proposed paying physicians for the time it takes to review a video or image sent by a patient to assess whether a visit is needed.

Do you recruit for telemedicine positions? Do you agree that too few people (patients and physicians) are making use of telemedicine to date? We’d love to hear your insights. Email us at tfdemo@doximity.com.

Topics: American Telemedicine Association, Spotlight on Telemedicine, The future of telemedicine, CMS proposed new payment rules, global telemedicine market, video visits, Technology Trends

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