Telemedicine 2020: A Vision for Growth
- March 10, 2020
No matter what definition of telehealth you use, it is clearly growing. Various sources have estimated that the global market for telehealth will experience a compound growth rate of 12% reaching $130 billion by 2025. Recent acquisition announcements signal potential increasing reach by market participants to lay hold of this growing market.
Year-end 2019 to early 2020 was highlighted by some significant consolidation in the industry. During December 2019, NextGen announced the acquisitions of MedFusion and OTTO Health extending its intent to further develop its telehealth platform. Less than a month later, Teladoc announced the acquisition of InTouch to focus on the development of a “virtual-care solution that spans the provider-to-provider telehealth capabilities for inpatient care, as well as consumer-to-provider applications for inside the hospital.” As these recent announcements indicate, the market is growing. However, the potential for innovative ways to use technology to expand patient care will continue to develop; fundamentally patient care will always require providers.
Opportunities and Combating Burnout
The willingness of providers to engage in telehealth services has increased from 57% in 2015 to 69% in 2019.  That has translated to 22% of physicians providing telemedicine services compared to only 5% in 2015. The survey also noted of those physicians surveyed, female physicians were 10% more interested in telemedicine job opportunities relative to male counterparts. There was also a suggestion that physicians engaging most with telemedicine job opportunities reside in higher populated metro areas.
In its most recent survey, American Well identified a noticeable correlation between physician burnout rate and a physician’s willingness to use telehealth. However, even though a willingness to use telehealth exists, few specialties are utilizing it to the same level of provider willingness. Psychiatry is the lone exception as those surveyed indicated that its actual use equals the level of interest by providers. Given the discrepancy for other specialties, a significant opportunity remains.
As the market grows and companies position themselves to participate in a growing and needed market, traditional hurdles to expansion remain. Questions regarding reimbursement for services and the complexity of licensing remain the key factors in markets that can support the technology. There are also significant operational considerations that should be carefully addressed.
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 Telehealth Index, 2019 Physician Survey, American Well
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