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The Business of Telemedicine

In 2019, more than 75% U.S. based hospitals used video to connect with their patients. Telehealth is a $20+ billion-dollar industry and is expected to reach $186.5 billion in 2026. With 90% of physicians having experience with remote treatment and 77% of physicians wanting a shift towards telehealth, telehealth and telemedicine are the future of healthcare.

Telemedicine is used to diagnose conditions, screen symptoms, provide mental health services, offer low-risk urgent care, and support nursing home staff among other remote clinical services. Telehealth, however, is much broader, offering the capabilities of medication fulfillment (telepharmacy), chronic condition support, physical/occupational services, and provider training facilitation.

18% of US GDP is healthcare-related, making the niche for telehealth and telemedicine immense, with telehealth increasing patient satisfaction and retention by 81.5%. Telehealth is booming, with a compound annual growth rate of 4.8%, thanks to its many formats.

Telehealth has continued to thrive even through opposing barriers; namely, the COVID-19 pandemic. Telehealth reeled in 1,629,000 visits in the first quarter of 2020, with 69% of telehealth patients being between 18-49 years old, and 69% of patients managing their concerns with telehealth guidance during the pandemic. Support for telehealth includes studies that show patients prefer telehealth over in-person visits, no significant difference between in-person and telehealth diagnoses, and political backing, with recent legislation allowing telehealth practitioners to reach across state lines. Jonathan Linkous, CEO of the American Telemedicine Association, says that “In an age where the average consumer manages nearly all aspects of life online, it’s a no-brainer that healthcare should be just as convenient, accessible, and safe as online banking”.

COVID-19 spurred many to try telehealth for the first time. 61% of Americans have now had at least one telehealth appointment, a 300% increase since March 2020. Now that they’ve tried it, most Americans want telehealth to continue, with 80% believing that telehealth offers the same quality of care as in-person visits — up from 56% before the pandemic.

Telehealth will continue to boom with its undeniable benefits. With added convenience, the erased need to take time off work or commute to the doctor’s office, 82% of Americans say telehealth made it easier to get the care they need. Telehealth has also increased comfort, with many feeling less anxiety and fear when seeing a doctor remotely. Telehealth has also expanded access to acute care, with 59% of Medicare patients having access to a laptop. And last, but certainly not least, telehealth lowers healthcare costs, with savings estimates from 17% to 75%. With 77% of patients would consider using telehealth and 83% of patients expecting to use telehealth after 2020, the future of medicine is just a few taps away.

The Booming Business of Telemedicine