The Wealth in TeleHealth

Written by Amethys Kompani, Summer Intern at Plug and Play Health.

Scheduling a doctor’s appointment well in advance is no longer on-trend in 2017. With individuals getting more connected by the minute, there is a massive drive towards digital health. Telemedicine is penetrating the $3 trillion healthcare industry by creating a 24/7 on demand liaison between patients and clinicians who have never met before for one-time phone and video visits.

This technology has gained traction due to its evident benefits. Most importantly, it is cost efficient; fewer hospital visits lead to lower costs. Furthermore, doctors have the option to hand pick the optimal amount of involvement and easily gain access to second opinions from other doctors who are miles away. Using this platform, patients are diagnosed earlier and can be linked to the relevant professional caregivers if necessary.

Telemedicine cuts down the time needed for each patient visit and thus accelerates the entire process, allowing for a larger concentration of patients to be treated within the same time frame. Another important function of telemedicine is the ongoing relationship that can be maintained between patients and physicians. This relationship is very important for “enhancing follow-up care, better coordinating care and managing chronic conditions.

The increase in interest for telemedicine is juxtaposed with the fact that many rural hospitals are closing down due to internal and external factors. Externally, Medicaid eligibility is not easily granted to individuals; therefore, many hospital beds are left empty. Additionally, Medicare payment rates are reduced by 2%, which is hindering the business of hospitals who were already operating on thin margins.

With the unsteady political climate, further cuts to Medicare and Medicaid will take place which will negatively impact the business of the rural hospitals. Internally, due to the smaller size of these hospitals, they cannot take advantage of economies of scale to drive costs down.[4] Consequently, when hospitals close down, they drive the number of jobs down and have a negative impact on the GDP.

Currently, the top telemedicine companies in the market are CareClix, Doctor on Demand, My Telemedicine, Teladoc, iCliniq and The Bottom Line. Very customer-centric in nature, they are mainly focused on facilitating the access to health professionals and ameliorating the health consultation experience across a vast array of specialties.

By normalizing the easy access to healthcare around the clock and modifying the formerly rigid relationship between patients and physicians, these companies create further value by incentivizing patients to place more importance on their personal well being. Despite the obstacles that providers face due to the cost of Telemedicine, the benefits certainly outweigh the financial drawbacks.




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