Telemedicine: Endless Possibilities for Hospital Marketers

November 7, 2014
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Telemedicine is an emerging method to connect patients with physicians, hospitals, and other healthcare providers through technology. It allows patients to communicate directly with their healthcare providers via video conferencing, image sharing, patient portals, email, and more.

Telemedicine is an emerging method to connect patients with physicians, hospitals, and other healthcare providers through technology. It allows patients to communicate directly with their healthcare providers via video conferencing, image sharing, patient portals, email, and more. Telemedicine allows hospitals to offer care to patients they never would have been able to reach before, and provides marketers with endless opportunities to reach new patients.Telemedicine, Hospital Marketing

Hospitals and telemedicine

According to the American Telemedicine Association (ATA), more than half of U.S. hospitals are utilizing some form telemedicine. Telemedicine services vary drastically by location, but telemedicine technology is especially useful to specialty hospitals. For example, Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City offers telemedicine services that make it possible for patients who live far away to receive care by the doctors at their facility. They also offer technical support to patients who need it. These types of services allows patients to seek care from specialists to whom they might not have otherwise had access.

Massachusetts General Hospital TeleHealth offers a telemedicine program with a more general focus. They offer a wide variety of services across several different hospital programs, including the Brain Tumor Center, Primary Care, Burns, and Pathology. They also market their program as an option for those who may be looking for a second expert opinion. Patients can send their lab results, tests, and x-rays electronically and discuss them with a clinician. In some cases the clinician can even perform a visual examination if the patient’s condition allows.

As technology improves and becomes more cost-effective to implement, more and more hospitals are offering telemedicine services. The ATA reports that there are currently more than 200 telemedicine networks and 3,500 telemedicine service sites in the U.S. Conversely, as hospitals can more reliably offer telemedicine services, patients are more comfortable using the technology that makes telemedicine possible in their daily lives.

Telemedicine and hospital marketing

Telemedicine represents an unprecedented opportunity for marketers to increase the number of patients a hospital can reach. A telemedicine program can increase patient access to care, an essential service that is a win-win scenario for hospitals and patients.

If a hospital does not already offer telemedicine services, marketers can influence hospital administrators by identifying underserved areas that would benefit from telemedicine services. In addition, marketers can point to other successful programs, such as Mass General’s TeleHealth program, as a model for implementation. Finally, identifying the necessary technology and demonstrating how it can be used to successfully provide care will convince key decision-makers that telemedicine can be a good fit for their hospital.

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