Telemedicine is a revolutionary health care feature that lets health care providers to take care of patients through phone and video chat appointments using digital technology. Telemedicine aims to minimize emergency room visits and the rate of hospitalization by enhancing medical services, increasing post-acute care monitoring to monitor various chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disorders and cancer. The increased prevalence of the aforesaid diseases, an increase in the geriatric population and the constant demand for patient self-governance are the high impact drivers of this industry and therefore Telemedicine solutions are expected to experience substantial development in the coming years.
Telemedicine Market size was valued at USD 45 billion in 2019 and it is expected to reach USD 155.1 billion by 2027, expanding at a CAGR of 15.1% over the forecast period. Increasing incidences of chronic conditions and rising demand for self-care medicines are the key factors driving the market.
Telemedicine industry in the light of Covid- 19
The unprecedented outbreak of COVID-19 across the globe has resulted in increased demand for telemedicine solutions as a preventive measure to counter the pandemic, due to lockdowns introduced by many countries. The CDC has encouraged health care providers to interact with patients remotely wherever possible in response to the coronavirus outbreak. To support this, many federal health departments have taken steps to assist in promoting the use of telemedicine.
The US government has expanded telemedicine consultations to nearly 62 million Medicare beneficiaries. The Office of Civil Rights (ORC) has temporarily lifted telemedicine restrictions, including removing the penalty for HIPAA violations for providers utilizing telemedicine during the pandemic. European Union countries also have amended or relaxed the stringent regulations for practicing telemedicine. Further, the HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) has allowed providers to reduce or waive deductibles for telemedicine visits. This step was undertaken to increase the adoption of telemedicine and expand the reimbursement options. Moreover, this will also increase the access of healthcare services to patients located in low-resource and remote areas or are afraid to visit hospitals for fear of exposure.
Recent data shared from Amwell, a telemedicine technology provider who processed tens of thousands of telemedicine visits a day pre coronavirus, saw a 490% increase in urgent care visits the last week of March.
The largest virtual care provider in the US, Teledoc, is now reporting 100K+ appointments weekly while the Cleveland Clinic logged 60k+ telemedicine visits in March (of which ~75% pertained to patients worried they had COVID-19). To put the rapid increase into perspective, the Cleveland Clinic health system was averaging closer to 3,400 virtual visits a month pre-coronavirus.
Although recent efforts to eliminate barriers and promote easy access for telemedicine services are a response to Covid-19, these reforms are likely to have a lasting effect on the healthcare and telemedicine services market.
Recent data on remote treatments introduced to maintain social distancing suggests that some telemedicine services for certain specialties may continue to be prominent even after stay-at-home orders are lifted. Psychiatry and Neurology in particular have seen high adoption rates for remote treatments during the pandemic that could be maintained longer term.
Regardless of Covid-19, healthcare providers should prepare for this focus on telemedicine to continue and possibly increase in the months to come.