Telemedicine for most patients, seems a bit taboo and foreign, but the people that feel that way just don’t know enough about the emerging industry. Some people say ignorance is bliss–not when it comes to healthcare. First, patients and providers need to understand the term “telemedicine”. Telemedicine is the “the remote diagnosis and treatment of patients by means of telecommunications technology.” Pretty basic if you think about it. The common misconception associated with telemedicine, is that you’ll be treated by some gigantic iRobot-machine in an uncomfortable setting in order to have a video consult with your doctor. All you really need, in most cases, is a device with video and internet capability.
Now that we understand the hardware and the basic meaning of telemedicine, it is vital that we understand where telemedicine stands in terms of market growth. According to IHS, “Global telehealth Market Set to Expand Tenfold by 2018”. Telemedicine is now the fastest growing health care sector in the world, based on these latest numbers. In 2013, revenue from telemed consults totaled $230M and by 2018 it is projected to grow 8 times to approximately$1.9B.
With growth this big, comes some attention from the federal US government, making this technology more and more accessible. In 2013, only 6 states mandated private insurance coverage for telehealth visits to be reimbursed for the same amount to providers as office visits. Now in 2014, 21 states plus Washington DC mandate private health insurance coverage for telehealth. Nearly all remaining states who have no passed the mandate have legislation in process or on the governor’s desk! For anyone who wants the daily update with telemedicine state legislation changes, you can actually just check on the ATA site.