Digital technologies have transformed the ways people communicate, collaborate and make decisions, healthcare and well-being included.
In the era of increased awareness of diseases and general interest in well-being, both patients and doctors are looking for on-demand healthcare which results in improved outcomes due to instant interaction and availability of health data. Therefore, it’s no surprise that telemedicine is enjoying growth.
US data shows that in 2016 market penetration for telemedicine was less than .5% while the potential is estimated at 400+ million consults – approximately one-third of the 1.25 billion annual U.S. ambulatory care visits.
- Aging of population in developed countries is increasing the pressure over the healthcare system and healthcare spending. It is forecasted that in the US it will be increasing by 5.8% per year between 2018 and 2015. 38% of doctor visits, including 27% of Emergency Room (E.R.) visits could have been replaced with telemedicine.
- The average Emergency Room (ER) cost visit is calculated at the level of $1,233 based on 2008 NIH data. This reflects the median cost for visits that did not lead to result in a hospital admission. Due to healthcare costs inflation, this number is expected to grow.
- A 2016 survey by the NIH concluded that between 94 percent and 99 percent were “very satisfied” with telehealth, while one-third of respondents preferred telemedicine session to an in-office doctor visit. Additionally, studies show that the quality of telehealth services is equal to the traditional walk-in consultations.
- A survey found that 23% of people did not see a doctor with their health conditions due to long wait times in clinics.
- Telemedicine makes time usage more efficient for both patients and doctors. A study published in 2015 in the American Journal of Managed Care, by researchers at Harvard Medical School, concluded that the average doctor visit took 121 minutes; 37 minutes of travel time, 64 minutes of waiting time, and just 20 minutes of face-to-face time with physicians. A 2017 Medscape survey shows that 56% of all physician visits included only 16 minutes or less of actual face-to-face time with patients. Such ineffective usage of time can be reorganized by telehealth service introduction.
- Telehealth can address such issues as access to care at nights and on weekends, and shortages of physicians and specialists in rural areas. Only in the US approximately 15% of the population lives in rural areas and only 10% of the nation’s physicians practice in rural areas. Inadequate distribution of specialists is even more striking in other parts of the world.
- Telemedicine can address the issue of growing shortages of Primary Care Physicians (PCP): the total number of PCPs in the US can only meet 50% or less of the population’s needs while almost 65 mln Americans don’t have access to primary care providers.
- Telehealth is the preferred healthcare method by the millennials: 60% are willing to replace in-office visits with telehealth sessions. They appreciate convenience and lower costs of telemedicine, especially in non-emergency cases. This is confirmed by a 2015 survey that found that just 43% of millennials were likely to visit a Primary Care Physician for non-emergency treatment, as opposed to seeking a more convenient telehealth option.According to 2014 Towers Watson study, telemedicine can provide up to 6$ bln in annual healthcare costs for employers that constitute up to 8% of total operating expenses. These expenses may be redirected to lower-cost alternatives, decrease costs for avoided follow-up visits and lead to increased employee productivity, improved health through earlier treatments, reduced stress and decreased employee burden of sharing healthcare costs.