Healthcare Technology Featured Article

April 23, 2015

Telemedicine's Road Ahead: Challenges and Triumphs


Telemedicine is garnering a lot of attention lately, and for good reason. This technology allows us to bring a wide variety of medical specialties just about anywhere on the planet, without having to build out infrastructure any more complex than what would be done for Internet access. But telemedicine's road ahead won't be without some struggles, as detailed by a new report from REACH Health.

Since REACH Health is a major provider of telemedicine software, it's in a good position to release this new report, titled the “2015 Telemedicine Industry Benchmark Survey.” What the study found might be a surprise to some. For instance, the survey revealed that one of the best indicators of how well a telemedicine program does lies in the overall focus of the program's manager. This was considered a top factor ahead of both funding and executive support.

The survey also noted that telemedicine is no longer regarded as a specialty industry, but rather as a mainstream field. Sixty percent of respondents noted telemedicine to be one of the highest priorities the firm could offer. This may sound odd, but it's actually backed up by another useful point: improved reputation. Improved reputation is actually tops of the list of return-on-investment (ROI) drivers, where formerly, it would be considered a “soft driver,” behind things like reimbursement.

But the report didn't stop there. It also went on to cover other ROI drivers, as well as some major upcoming challenges to success. The full report is set to be released at REACH Health's booth at the upcoming American Telemedicine Association conference, and will likely give many medical concerns food for thought.

It's obvious there are some key issues with telemedicine. While one of its stated purposes is to help bring medical care to the places that need it, it overlooks the fact that these places often don't have the necessary infrastructure to make telemedicine possible in the first place. That's not universally the case, of course, but it's a safe bet that a town too small for a hospital is likewise too small to have a high-end Internet connection with the kind of bandwidth that makes telemedicine possible. It's like asking someone unemployed for a year why that person has saved nothing for retirement; the wrong problem is being addressed. Still though, with more and more focus paid to rural connectivity, the issues of insufficient bandwidth for telemedicine to prosper may not be a problem much longer.

Only time will tell what telemedicine's future looks like, but one thing is quite clear: this is a major new technology that still has some issues to be worked out. When these are worked out, we may have a system with much better access to medicine, and all the benefits that entails.




Edited by Dominick Sorrentino





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