One of the biggest growth areas in healthcare right now is telemedicine. The numbers are impressive.
One of the biggest growth areas in healthcare right now is telemedicine. The numbers are impressive. In a report from global market research company IHS, telemedicine, which is defined as “the use of medical devices and communication technology together to monitor diseases and symptoms,” is predicted to grow at a cumulative annual growth rate of more than 56 percent between 2013 and 2018.
Many of the reasons for this growth are easy to understand. Perhaps the biggest driver of growth is the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), and its emphasis on improving efficiencies and reducing costs through the use of technology. Some have cautioned that the increased utilization of telemedicine will negatively impact or diminish the importance of the doctor/patient relationship. This is also understandable. In some aspects of medicine, there is just no replacement for the human touch. This is definitely something to be concerned about and monitored. It also points to a need for regulations that help guide appropriate use of telemedicine technology. The good news is that this is happening at the state level.
We are experiencing a period of enormous growth in technology–cloud and wireless in particular–which is directly impacting the telemedicine market. Medical devices including wearables and remote monitoring systems are now equipped with Wifi, GPS and cellular technologies, and connected to the cloud, enabling remote healthcare providers to reach patients they would not have been able to treat just a few years ago. And with an increasingly aging population in the United States, most of whom have a strong desire to remain in their homes for as long as possible, wireless technology, remote monitoring and telehealth are essential.
I think we are seeing the very tip of the iceberg in terms of what is possible as Big Data, technology and medicine continue to blend. The opportunities for medical technology companies in these areas are enormous. Investments in the mhealth market and telehealth are hitting record highs, as more people recognize the opportunities out there. The next five years in particular are going to be very interesting.