Telehealth allows a patient to be in a different physical location than the medical expert providing treatment, reducing the number of visits to the hospital and improving patient outcomes. Telehealth solutions can range from simple communications like emails sent between patients and providers to extremely complex procedures like remote robotic surgery. Today, common forms of telehealth include video conferencing and home monitoring devices. For example, diabetics would be able to transmit their blood sugar levels to their provider for review, via a telephone line from the comfort of their home.
A growing, ageing population coupled with a shortage of healthcare providers is one of the leading drivers of telehealth adoption. However, significant barriers affect the uptake of telehealth. Despite the benefits of telehealth, the lack of reimbursement continues to be the most pressing challenge to widespread adoption. With no financial incentive for healthcare providers to implement the technology, providers are likely to view telehealth as an increase in workload without a subsequent increase in pay.
Despite the lack of reimbursement, the market’s growth is nevertheless being driven by the sheer growth in numbers of the elderly and chronically ill population. In particular, homecare telehealth, also known as remote patient monitoring, will grow at a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 56% compared to 9.9% in the clinical market according to Datamonitor research. The overall global telehealth market is expected to exceed $8 billion by 2012.