Rapid growth projected for global telemedicine market

The global market for telemedicine technologies is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 18.4 percent from the $17.8 billion spent on hardware, software and services through 2020, according to a new report from RNCOS.

The report cites a shortage of physicians in rural and remote areas, the high prevalence of chronic diseases, growing elderly populations, increasing numbers of smartphone users and the need for improved quality services as factors fueling the growth of telemedicine, according to an announcement.

On the other hand, reimbursement challenges, uneven distribution of telecom networks in remote areas and high operating cost are major factors hindering its implementation, the report adds.

Many of those issues, in the U.S. at least, are starting to be addressed in the industry and on Capitol Hill. At a hearing last month by the Senate subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation and the Internet, Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker (R) said he will reintroduce a bill--the Telehealth Advancement Act--to extend Medicare coverage for telemedicine services to remote areas of the country.

McKesson, Philips Healthcare, GE Healthcare and Cerner lead the market among telehealth vendors, according to the report. Dermatology and gynecology held the highest market share among telemedicine applications, it found, followed by cardiology, neurology, orthopedics and emergency care.

At the same time, the number of consumers using home health technologies globally will grow from 14.3 million in 2014 to 78.5 million by 2020, market intelligence firm Tractica reported recently. These technologies allow providers to remotely monitor patients with chronic conditions, improve care for elderly people and conduct virtual visits with a physician.

Revenues from billable services for virtual care also are expected to grow in 2015, according to Harry Wang, director of health and mobile product research at Park Associates.

To learn more:
- purchase the report
- read the announcement