Telemedicine involves the use of information technology and telecommunication for the delivery of healthcare services such as health assessments or consultations over the telecommunications infrastructure. It helps the healthcare professional to diagnose, evaluate and treat patients without the need for an in-person visit and are also very useful to save lives at time of critical care and emergency situations. Telemedicine is of great help for distant rural areas as they help in overcoming the distance barriers to avail medical services at the time of requirement. Telemedicine enables the doctors to be connected through a variety of electronic means, including video conferencing, email and electronic messaging platforms. This reduces the overall cost of medical care for patients and increase healthcare accessibility.
Seeing the potential that the telemedicine provides, the World Health Organization (WHO) established global observatory for eHealth (GOe) to analyze the benefits that information and communication technologies can bring to healthcare supporting patient’s wellbeing. In 2009, the global observatory was assigned to determine the status of telemedicine at the national, regional and global level. The survey examined the four fields of telemedicine which includes telepathology, teledermatogy, telepsychology and teleradiology along with four mechanisms that will help in the development of telemedicine across all nations.
The conventional form of telemedicine that involved the use of telephone and radio have improved by the involvement of videotelephony, advanced diagnostic methods supported by various applications and tele medical devices to support in-home care.
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Burgeoning growth of the internet infrastructure and smartphone proliferation creates a conducive environment for growth of the global telemedicine market. Also, the rise in demand for personalized healthcare augments market growth. In 2013, American Telemedicine Association (ATA) stated the cost effectiveness of telemedicine through various research outcomes. For instance, a research was conducted in 2011 with implementation of Health Buddy Program which integrated a telehealth tool for chronically ill Medicare beneficiaries. It was found that patients who used this telemedicine had significant savings than patients who did not use it. A similar study was done in 2012 in New Mexico, which proved that costs in ‘Hospital at Home’ were 19% lower compared to care in hospitals for similar inpatients
More than 15 million Americans received medical care through telemedicine in 2016, according to American Telemedicine Association (ATA). This number is expected to grow further by 30% in 2017. Alongside ATA also issued several acts such as CHRONIC Care Act and CONNECT for Health Act in 2017 to support the growth of telemedicine across all nations. The Assembly Health Committee of New Jersey recently in 2017 legally defined the practice of telemedicine, user eligible for it and technology that can be used. This is expected to boost the telemedicine market in the region significantly during the forecast period. Another development in North Carolina allows professionals to video monitor and collect data on every far flung ICU patient through TeleICU. Furthermore, telemedicine developments are also observed in Latin America. The Government of Paraiba, Brazil introduced a telemedicine project for remote screening of hearth defects in children in 2015.
Alongside there are various medical policies available that support the telemedicine services. For instance, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) expanded its Medicare coverage for services like consultation, individual psychotherapy and pharmacologic management on 18th May 2017.
Lack of resources, infrastructure and high technological cost may hamper the market growth in emerging economies such as India, Brazil, and African countries.
Strategies implemented by market players to tap the emerging markets:
Key players in telemedicine market are Siemens Healthcare, McKesson, Cardio Net Inc., Cerner, IBM Corporation, Medtronic, Inc, Philips Healthcare Honeywell Life Care Solutions, GE Healthcare, AMD Telemedicine and Cisco Systems. Market players are implementing various strategies to gain share in the telemedicine market. For instance, Doc+, a Russian digital health company combined telemedicine with digital-enabled house calls through which doctors can offer consultations, sick notes, prescriptions, and a number of diagnostic tests over electronic platform in 2016.
Furthermore, in 2017, ZH healthcare collaborated with Curavi Health Telemedicine Company to deliver workflow and electronic health records (EHR) solutions that will help deliver telemedicine solutions and physician care to the nursing-home bedside.
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