By Stericycle Staff | Oct. 28, 2013

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Today’s expectations of 24/7 commerce are impacting healthcare delivery as well as many other types of economic activity. Our always-on, technology-enabled culture has created a growing demand for answers to patient questions at all hours. This demand has drives increased use of HIPAA-compliant telemedicine everywhehre.

Healthcare delivery without office visits

More and more frequently, patients want to be able to meet with their healthcare providers on a variety of non-emergency conditions and treatments without visiting the doctor’s office—a time commitment few patients can easily accommodate.

With more responsibility placed on the shoulders of primary care physicians given changes in modern healthcare, some physicians are embracing rather than fearing telemedicine. For example, Robert L. Smith, a family doctor in Canandaigua, N.Y., co-founded telemedicine consulting firm NowDox. Smith is a champion of telemedicine as a cost-effective means of increasing healthcare access.

Another example of acceptance of telemedicine: The University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital conducted a national survey in October 2013. Seventy-seven percent of parents surveyed would like to receive emailed advice for treating their children’s minor illnesses rather than bringing the child to the doctor’s office. However, only 6 percent believe that they should be assessed a fee for the doctor’s emailed advice. Fortunately, many large healthcare providers and some states pay claims for virtual care—a positive development for physicians.

Telemedicine is a $27 billion industry

The global telemedicine market is projected to triple to a $27.3 billion industry by 2016, according to a March 2012 BCC Research technical market research report. The “Telehospitals” and clinics segment accounted for $8 billion in 2011 and is projected to grow by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.8 percent to nearly $17.6 billion in 2016. “Telehome” healthcare accounted for $3.5 billion in 2011 and is expected to grow by 22.5 percent CAGR and reach $9.7 billion in 2016.

Medicare reimbursements not guaranteed

Despite projected growth, telemedicine is not yet uniformly reimbursed or covered by Medicare, Medicaid or private insurance companies. According to the Center for Telehealth and e-Health Law, “The absence of consistent, comprehensive reimbursement policies is often cited as one of the most serious obstacles to total integration of telehealth into healthcare practice.”

Online information sharing is very 21st Century

Primary care physicians can share a great deal of advice with their patients for free by using online information delivery. Follow-up information about medications and new treatments are two examples. It is critical to find technology vendors that demonstrate the ability to maintain your patients’ information security.

Communication increases patient access, too

Telemedicine is only one means to increase patients’ access to care. Stericycle Communication Solutions call center services such as Physician Referral, Class and Event Registration, Daytime Call Management, After Hours Answering Services and Appointment Scheduling are also great tools for increasing patient access. These services can improve the quality of care and reduce the need for clinical staff to answer redundant questions. For more information, contact us or visit our website.

Stericycle Staff

Author: Stericycle Staff

Stericycle has been delivering communication services to North American companies for over 25 years. Since 2011, we’ve been blogging about how to deliver best-in-class communications to patients and consumers – providing practical advice and current best practices for both healthcare and commercial organizations. We hope you enjoy and keep reading!
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