This year could be the inflection point in adoption of eVisits as technological advances and pressures to reduce costs and improve care boost the option, according to a Deloitte report.
Deloitte predicts there will be 100 million eVisits globally during 2014, potentially saving more than $5 billion over the cost of in-person visits. That's a growth rate of 400 percent over 2012 levels. It's expected to be a $50 billion to $60 billion global market.
Though attention tends to focus on benefits to patients, helping doctors understand the benefits they will receive through eVisits will be key to adoption, Deloitte says.
Patients are growing more comfortable with virtual doctor visits as Internet service improves and older users--who make the majority of visits--become more adept with technology. Though doctors tend to see eVisits as impersonal, the technology can be used to spend less time on routine cases and more time on cases that are more challenging.
Most eVisits will not involve a patient interacting with a doctor through videoconferencing, but more likely will involve patients filling out forms and questionnaires online, according to the report. Patients with symptoms of sinusitis, strep throat, allergies and bladder infection could be treated in this way, and receive a prescription, if required. More complex problems are still expected to require a face-to-face consultation.
Greater adoption would not only benefit the healthcare industry, but also the technology and telecommunications sectors. They will see growing demand for data volumes, high-speed broadband and machine-to-machine connectivity, on wired and wireless networks. The makers of devices, peripherals, and apps also are expected to benefit.
Healthcare organizations will have to determine to what extent they want to participate and the technology investments required.
Already, retail clinics, offering preventive services and chronic-disease management, are making inroads in the market for primary care. Walmart is among the new competitors in this arena, which could pose stiff competition for providers.
To learn more:
- read the report