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Mobile telehealth to create ‘doctor in your pocket’ convenience

Published on 17/10/14 at 09:45am
Telehealth image
Leading tech vendors such as Samsung, Google, Apple and Amazon will seek to capitalise on telehealth opportunities

The telehealth industry is on the verge of a dramatic growth surge that is significantly disrupting the healthcare sector in North America.

This is according to consultants Frost & Sullivan (F&S) and its ‘Pulse of Telehealth 2014’ research, that notes that the increasing ageing population needs to manage and monitor multiple chronic diseases, which in turn intensifies the demand for remote patient monitoring – as well as mobile telehealth.

"The momentum for telehealth is building rapidly as the practice of providing remote clinical services becomes entrenched in every aspect of healthcare in North America," says Frost & Sullivan connected health principal analyst Nancy Fabozzi. "Technological advancements that deliver rich, connected platforms with high visual and audio quality add to the business case for telehealth." 

Fabozzi adds that with millions of new patients entering the US healthcare system, owing to the Affordable Care Act, escalating demand coupled with the lack of easy access to health professionals will strengthen the market for telehealth services.

The firm’s study which was based on interviews conducted with key telehealth stakeholders in conjunction with an American Telemedicine Association annual meeting, found that telehealth videoconferencing, especially, will emerge as a suitable avenue for primary and speciality healthcare service delivery. 

But despite this potential to transform healthcare, numerous barriers to adoption still exist. Lingering concerns about patient privacy and safety as well as insufficient public and private reimbursement policies curb the widespread uptake of telehealth it notes.

In addition, users will have to face several ‘unknowns’ in terms of complex state provider licensing and regulatory issues, affecting market growth. The use of telemedicine will gather pace only when leading industry stakeholders establish new guidelines and break down regulatory and reimbursement roadblocks according to F&S.

"As the scope of telehealth expands, a number of technology and services vendors will make their entry into the market," adds Fabozzi. "Disease-specific vendors, in particular, will seek to capitalise on specialist shortages in critical areas such as mental health and neurology." 

An intensely competitive environment will then drive innovation as leading technology vendors – which it lists as Samsung, Google, Apple and Amazon – seek to capitalise on market opportunities.

Personal health tracking through wearables and consumer mHealth apps too will make inroads into the market the research finds, fuelling the mHealth segment and widening market reach.

Brett Wells

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