4 Factors key to inciting the exponential growth of Telemedicine
- Consistency: Traditional medicine has fostered inconsistent health care depending on the location that patients dwell. Urban settings, suburbia and rural settings all provide different experiences when it comes to receiving the medical care that patients seek. The amount of insurance coverage also plays into the mix. It doesn’t help that healthcare costs are rising each year. Telemedicine addresses these problems as it levels the playing field and provides medical solutions to the problems that patients seek answers to.
2. Accessibility: Statistics strongly suggest that a physician shortage will become a big problem with the pool of primary care doctors already on the decline. Telemedicine provides much greater reach for physicians to patients, not only by general practitioners but also by specialists that individuals might not have access to ordinarily. ( Many specialists only work in urban settings where the aggregated number of patients in their field is larger) Telemedicine acts as a bridge between the specialists in urban areas with rural patients. As more baby boomers become seniors and we witness the “graying of America”, the shortage of doctors become more apparent and the demand for care rises.
3. Cost Control: Overhead accounts for a big financial portion of overnight hospital stays and the second biggest expense to admissions is laboratory and radiology tests as well as consultations with specialists. Telemedicine practice reduces these costs, enabling patients to access specialists from anywhere.
According to a survey by Aeris of 158 leading professionals in healthcare, almost two thirds responded with a concern that institutions and health facilities experience tremendous pressure to contain costs and that telemedicine has the possibility to be the answer to this cost containment for not only patients but physicians and medical personnel as well. An additional third polled stated that a meaningful boost in telemedicine implementation will come from the employers attempting to decrease medical costs for themselves and their companies.
4. Medicare: As medicare and large insurance carriers adopt telemedicine for payment, this form of healthcare will become more mainstream, as expressed by 23% of professionals polled. Currently doctors in remote areas (Physician Scarcity Areas, aka PSAs) are eligible for incentives to implement and use telemedicine technology. The incentives are paid through the Medicare carrier of each region. As adoption becomes wider, it will be necessary for greater consistency amid various areas to achieve proper reimbursement.