The telemedicine market is expected to achieve "significant" growth in the next few years, from $736 million in 2011 to $2.5 billion in 2018, according to a new study by WinterGreen Research.
Telemedicine and home telehealth monitoring will increasingly be used to treat people with chronic conditions and reduce readmissions by using diagnosis support tools and treatment support tools, according to the study. It is being recognized as an effective way to keep patients healthy and thus cheaper for payers.
However, the methodology will change, with more telemedicine running on cell phones and consumer tablet computers, not on proprietary devices. As a result, according to the report, revenue from telemonitoring will come more from service delivery.
"Telemedicine is, at its core, a way to extend clinical services to make them part of lifestyle consultation," the study's authors wrote. "It provides a way to initiate two way communications with a patient, forever changing the doctor - patient relationship to a collaborative one. It means that physicians need to build collaboration skills or delegate those to their nurses which they have always done, but this time in a more effective manner, on that is supported by technology."
Other studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of telemedicine in dropping readmission rates and keeping patients more healthy. Additionally, Danville, Pa.-based Geisinger Health Plan reported in March that its telemonitoring program cut its readmission rates by 44 percent.