Healthcare News & Insights

Study: Telehealth services reach record heights by 2018

When it comes to telehealth services and devices, the medical industry is just scratching the surface, but that’s all about to change, according to a new report by IHS Technology179123453

The report, entitled World Market for Telehealth – 2014 Edition, indicates that by 2018 worldwide revenue for telehealth services and devices will skyrocket to $4.5 billion. Considering that 2013 weighed in at $440.6 million, that’s quite a jump.

So why over the next four years is telehealth services and devices revenue going to explode?

Changes in the regulatory environment and technological trends are leading the way for innovative care models. And this is a much welcomed trend for the hospital industry, which is desperately seeking ways to decrease overall healthcare expenditures, while improving the quality of care provided.

As a result of this, telehealth is becoming an integral part of health care.

The report also states that the number of patients using telehealth services will rise to 7 million in 2018, up from less than 350,000 in 2013 — another huge jump.

Barriers to telehealth

So why the sudden change over the next four years and why haven’t we seen this increase previously?

Most people and places are resistant to change, it’s part of human nature. The report notes that the barriers that have been holding telehealth back from reaching its full potential are:

  • poor implementation
  • low reimbursements levels, and
  • lack of physician support.

But let’s face it, with all the changes being implemented with the Affordable Care Act and the implementation of ICD-10 — just to name a few of the huge endeavors for hospitals — it’s not easy justifying the costs of telehealth technology and equipment when the government and insurance companies are screaming to cut costs.

However, maybe it’s time to face the facts that as more hospitals increase their use of remote communications and monitoring technology, telehealth will reduce costs and improve quality of care, significantly.

“Amid rising expenses, an aging population and the increasing prevalence of chronic diseases, the healthcare industry must change the way it operates,” Roeen Roashan, medical devices and digital health analyst at IHS Technology said in a press release. “Telehealth represents an attractive solution to these challenges, increasing the quality of care while reducing overall healthcare expenditures.”

Positive program results

The report also stated that results from telehealth programs reveal sharp decreases in readmission rates and mortality rates, alongside increases in adherence through patient engagement. These benefits make a strong business case for telehealth and will result in greater reimbursement from regulatory bodies. Because of all of this, hospitals and providers will integrate telehealth into their healthcare delivery causing the huge increase in implementation numbers.

In particular, the introduction of mobile health hubs is one aspect that is boosting the market, lowering the cost of telehealth while increasing overall value propositions.

In addition, the study noted that telehealth is especially helpful in managing the chronic conditions of those aged 65 and older — a group that constitutes a large percentage of the overall population —  in the face of all-time-high levels of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer and obesity. Telehealth also offers scalable healthcare in a cost-efficient way at a time of increasing pressure on the healthcare sector for personnel and resources.

So far, as stated in the press statement, telehealth mainly has been applied to post-acute patients. However, now providers are looking to monitor the health of entire populations. This process, called population health management (PMH), is further expanding the total available market for telehealth.

Other factors pointed out in the study that will benefit the expansion of telehealth include:

  • the anticipated growth in wearable technology, and
  • the quantified self within a connected home context, aimed at developing a sustainable platform for preventive care.

 

 

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