Telemedicine is the process of offering virtual online care and education to patients with the use of telehealth technology. This method of healthcare delivery has been cutting costs, improving outcomes, and increasing patient convenience around the nation. Although the technology has been available since the 1950s, it hasn’t been until recently that the market for these tools final began to explode. Most believe the upswing in telehealth usage isn’t a fad; there are five decades of documentation showing the technology improves healthcare. With the increasing pressures of skyrocketing care delivery costs, a physician shortage, increased competition, and declining healthcare outcomes, telemedicine provides us with proven methodologies to overcome these challenges.
This article will provide readers with 25 facts about telemedicine, including usage statistics and market size, market trends, and the impact these tools are having on the industry, providers, and the patients themselves.
Who Uses Telehealth?
1. Globally, the market for telehealth is predicted to grow at a compound annual growth rate of more than 14% in 2019 and 2020.
Foley & Lardner LLP
2. One study showed that, in 2005, annual telemedicine usage rates translated to one per 1,000 people. By 2017, that number had increased to more than seven per 1,000. That’s a compound growth rate of 52% from 2005 to 2014, with an annual average compound growth rate of 261% from 2015 to 2017.
3. In it’s final update to the 2019 Physician Fee Schedule; CMS adopted three new CPT codes to reimburse providers offering remote patient monitoring. This trend is expected to open the door to increased telemedicine adoption by both large and small healthcare providers.
4. New research shows that provider adoption of telemedicine has climbed to 71%, both in inpatient and outpatient settings over a three-year period.
5. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia now offers a maternity telehealth program designed to provide crucial education, support, and treatment to expectant and new mothers.
6. Telemedicine usage is skyrocketing in rural areas. Between 2004 and 2014 rural telemedicine visits by Medicare beneficiaries suffering from mental illness rose by 45% each year.
Harvard Medical School
Healthcare Trends Driving Telehealth Adoption
7. One of the most concerning trends of the past five years has been the skyrocketing cost of providing care in the United States. In 2018, we spent $3.65 trillion ($11,212 per person); and that is more than any industrialized nation in the world. That number increased by 4.4% from the prior year. By 2027, it is predicted that healthcare will be 19.4% of our entire gross domestic product.
8. An estimated $200 billion of our current annual healthcare costs are avoidable.
9. Yet despite all of the spending, the United States ranks 27th globally for healthcare outcomes.
10. Employers carry a high cost for healthcare; in 2018 employers paid 75% of the costs and patients 25%.
11. There are only 2.6 doctors per 1,000 patients in the U.S. today; that number is expected to worsen.
12. By 2030 there will be more than 40,000 unfilled physician posts.
13. About 4% of all Americans declare bankruptcy because of medical debt.
The New England Journal of Medicine
Telemedicine – Impact on U.S. Healthcare
14. Using telemedicine reduces the cost of care delivery while improving healthcare outcomes. Intermountain uses telehealth to do both; the healthcare system reports that the technology has improved care quality for critically ill newborns while also saving the organization $1.2 million. Intermountain uses telehealth to connect bedside teams with neonatologists, which has helped cut down on costly and dangerous air medical transfers for these fragile infants. This is particularly critical for rural hospitals that lack the availability of an on-call specialist.
15. The Cleveland Clinic has been using telehealth for more than four years. One benefit is an increase in patient engagement and satisfaction scores. Nearly 80% of Cleveland Clinic patients that use the service say they would use it again.
Cleveland Clinic Consult QD
16. The Mayo Clinic uses telemedicine to cut costs. With a virtual link between NICU specialists and small hospitals, costly patient transports are cut by 30% annually,
17. Telemedicine improves healthcare outcomes. One study conducted in a large Florida health system sought to measure telemedicine’s impact on hospital mortality, length of stay, and direct costs for patients in a progressive care unit. The study showed that the technology had a positive impact in all of these areas, “despite the fact patients in TPCU were older and had higher disease severity, and risk of mortality.”
Critical Care Medicine
18. Even specialty care is positively impacted by telehealth. One randomized study of orthopedic patients shows that using telemedicine consults in place of traditional clinic visits “is cost-effective from both a societal and health sector perspective.”
Journal of Medical Internet Research
19. A 2019 survey asked healthcare leadership around the nation how they believed telemedicine would impact the industry in the coming years. The poll said healthcare leaders expected that telemedicine would:
- Increase access to healthcare, particularly for rural areas.
- Allow patients to connect with specialty care providers.
- Reduce no-shows and wait times for appointments.
Medical Group Management Association (MGMA)
20. Even small medical groups report big benefits from telemedicine. A recent study showed that the top performing practices in the nation are using these technologies to increase productivity, lower costs, and improve patient outcomes.
What Problems Could Telemedicine Solve in Your Practice?
Telemedicine is a clinically-proven effective method for improving how we deliver care. Primary care and specialists in virtually all-clinical areas have used the virtual visit to cut costs, improve outcomes, and increase their reach to patients. An increasing number of clinical providers are using these tools because the impact is clearly defined as positive at a time when we desperately need to tip the scales in our favor.
Telemedicine technology is changing the healthcare paradigm, and it could provide a positive impact on your practice. Contact OrthoLive to find out more about our low-cost, HIPAA-compliant telehealth app.