Thursday, March 4, 2010

Adoption of Telemedicine Accelerating

A series of news announcements and reports over the past few days provides an interesting look at the breadth and scope of telemedicine being by health professionals and consumers, worldwide.

  • Almost 6,000 health-related mobile phone applications are now available for consumers and health practitioners over mobile phones according to a report released on March 1 by MobiHealthNews. Over three fourths of the applications are designed for and marketed directly to the public, the remainder are for use by health professionals. The CEO of Sprint Communications declared at a health technology conference on March 1st that wireless communications will take U.S. health care “out of the '70s.”

  • On March 2nd the Virginia State Legislature unanimously approved a bill mandating that all private health insurers in the state pay for telemedicine services. Virginia becomes the twelfth state to adopt similar legislation with several more states currently considering such a move. All 50 state Medicaid programs already reimburse for remote medical imaging and over half of these state programs also pay for additional telemedicine services.

  • A report just released by Manhattan Research revealed that 39% of physicians now email, secure message, or instant message their patients – a 14% increase since 2006. Dermatologists and medical oncologists are the physician specialist groups most likely to communicate with patients online.

  • In recent testimony before Congress, the Veterans Administration has requested a significant increase in spending for telehealth services. The agency hopes to increase the use of home telehealth from 35,000 homes to 50,000 homes by the end of next year. A recent study of the VA’s experience found patients enrolled in home telehealth programs experienced a 25 percent reduction in the average number of days spent in the hospital and a 19 percent reduction in hospitalizations.

  • A market report released recently by In-Medica, a European-based research firm forecasts that the number of worldwide gateways used in telehealth applications will increase to over one million in 2014 and to around 3.6 million in 2018.

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