Healthcare Technology Featured Article

April 23, 2012

Growth of Telemedicine Due to New Focus: the Patient

Imagine this. Instead of worrying about how to make money, given the constraints of healthcare reform, or how to find and use the new technology out there for doctors’ offices and hospitals, or even something so basic as switching from paper to digital records. . .what if the newest thing in healthcare were you, the patient?

Well, that’s what seems to be happening in the area of telemedicine, according to a new study by Frost & Sullivan.

The research firm says that the market for home health monitoring tools and solutions is on its tippy-toes, ready to grow, as providers look to telemedicine to connect people at home to their healthcare providers. But here’s where the big change comes in: growth in the past has always been tied to traditional telemedicine products, sold to providers, health plans and self-insured businesses. But today, the study found, a new customer is poised to affect the market: you, the consumer.

Telemedicine means many things to many people. To doctors, it’s staying in touch with specialists over a smartphone, or even scheduling patients. To a person with diabetes, it’s a way to monitor and transmit your glucose levels to your doctor without even stepping into his office. And to many hospitals, it’s a way to keep patients from being readmitted by checking their vital signs from devices in their homes.

But it all adds up to reducing the costs of medicine, and making it more convenient for both doctor and patient.

“The proximity of this market to the patient/consumer, makes it a bridge between consumer-friendly products, such as smartphones or tablets, and healthcare services,” said Zachary Bujnoch, a senior industry analyst with Frost & Sullivan, in a press release. “Also, over the past five years and going forward, this market has begun to form two tiers: traditional 'telemedicine' and more consumer-focused monitoring services.”

24/7, a telemedicine provider, says there are three reasons why growth is accelerating in this area:

  • Telemedicine allows patients in distant locations to consult with remote medical experts, and physicians and facilities to expand into areas outside of their own offices
  • Telemedicine has proven to reduce hospital readmissions, and travel time that can result in lost wages
  • Telemedicine can relieve stress on families and save money and time

As more and more people start taking responsibility for their own health, payers and the business world are now also going along, according to Frost & Sullivan, offering programs that allow members or employees to manage their own healthcare accounts, choose health and wellness services and connect with providers via smartphones, tablets and patient portals.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

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