The Rise of Telemedicine

The Rise of TelemedicineA recent survey has found that telemedicine has continued to evolve into a mainstream technology service, with a growing number of healthcare professionals viewing it as a top priority.  The 2016 Telemedicine Industry Benchmark Survey by the telemedicine software company Reach Health surveyed some 390 healthcare professionals, including executives, physicians, nurses and other professionals, gathering input on their priorities, objectives and challenges, telemedicine program models and management structures, service lines and settings.  Reach Health compared these findings to the results of last year’s survey in an effort to better understand the trends and changes in telemedicine.

Among the survey’s key findings was that nearly two-thirds of its participants viewed telemedicine as a top priority, representing a 10 percent increase from last year.  When surveyed about top objectives for telemedicine programs, patient-oriented objectives occupy the top three positions for most common objectives.  When asked to rate their success in achieving telemedicine program objectives, respondents indicated a high degree of success with those same top three objectives.  Respondents said that their highest degree of success came with providing remote or rural patients with access to specialists.

The survey report also took a look at telemedicine attributes that are most highly correlated with success.  The survey report authors said that some attributes exhibit a strong correlation with success, such as the priority of the telemedicine program as ranked among other hospital priorities.  For example, telemedicine programs ranked as a top priority are 62 percent more likely to be highly successful thank those who ranked it as a low priority.  If these telemedicine programs do have a dedicated program manager or coordinator, then they’re 43 percent more likely to be highly successful than those with a less focused program manager.

The survey also addressed telemedicine program challenges and survey participants identified, ranking their challenges in terms of those that remain unaddressed, partially addressed, fully addressed or not a challenge.  Issues tied in with reimbursement and electronic medical record systems were listed as the main challenges to telemedicine.  Determining ROI was also acknowledged as a challenge, although the survey authors noted that improving financial return was least frequently cited as a top objective.  Although compensation for physicians remains relatively high on the list of challenges, physician acceptance has improved compared to last year, and is fairly low on the list of challenges.

As the telemedicine industry comes of age, hospitals and healthcare systems have been exhibiting a rising trend toward an enterprise approach, with larger systems moving more quickly in this direction than smaller hospitals.  If you’d like to learn more, you can click here!