Table of Contents
The American Telemedicine Association (ATA) held its annual meeting and tradeshow in Baltimore this past May. The meeting is billed as “the world’s largest telemedicine, mHealth, and telehealth meeting and tradeshow.” The event is certainly an important venue for trendspotting all that’s new and notable in this important and growing industry. Frost & Sullivan was in attendance, taking note of trends and vendor developments, and conducting our annual telehealth stakeholder survey and market trends report, Pulse of Telehealth, which is due out in Q3 2014. The following presents a summary of conference highlights, recent news and announcements related to telehealth, and our perspectives on market direction.
- A Market Ready to Explode – Momentum for telemedicine/telehealth is building strongly, enabled by new guidelines from leading industry stakeholders, a wide-spread willingness to break down regulatory and reimbursement roadblocks, and technological advancements that provide for rich, connected platforms with high levels of visual and audio acuity.
- Vendors Rush In – As market opportunities expand, expect rising numbers of vendors of telehealth technology and services, particularly growing numbers of disease-specific vendors seeking to capitalize on specialist shortages in critical areas like mental health and neurology.
- Payers and IDNs Take a Keen Interest – Health plans and integrated delivery networks see telehealth as one of the greatest enablers of improved access and cost-efficiency, and will aggressively expand their stake in the market, including acquiring telehealth vendors.
The American Telemedicine Association (ATA) held its annual meeting and tradeshow in Baltimore this past May. The meeting is billed as “the world’s largest telemedicine, mHealth, and telehealth meeting and tradeshow.” The event is certainly an important venue for trendspotting all that’s new and notable in this important and growing industry. Frost & Sullivan was in attendance, taking note of trends and vendor developments, and conducting our annual telehealth stakeholder survey and market trends
report, Pulse of Telehealth, which is due out in Q3 2014. The following presents a summary of conference highlights, recent news and announcements related to telehealth, and our perspectives on market direction.
ATA 2014 HIGHLIGHTS – CONNECTED TO CARE
An Introduction to ATA and Telemedicine
ATA was founded in 1993 with the mission to “promote professional, ethical and equitable improvement in health care delivery through telecommunications and information technology.” The organization’s CEO is Jonathan D. Linkous. ATA is based in Washington, D.C., and currently has about 8,000 members consisting of healthcare professionals, researchers, healthcare institutions and industry stakeholders across the world. ATA strives to work collaboratively with a wide variety of US and global organizations involved in efforts to advance the use of telemedicine, a goal encapsulated in their guiding theme, “Connected to Care.” Standards setting, research, and continuing education are among ATA’s core functions.
The first step in discussing this industry’s participants, products and services, and important market trends is to try to define the numerous and confusing terms used to describe it. Sometimes we hear telemedicine referred to as only pertaining to clinician-to-clinician interactions, while telehealth refers to clinician-patient consultations. In addition, mHealth, short for mobile health, is usually meant to encompass only those medically related transactions that occur via mobile devices but which may or may not involve clinical services. In short, no one can really agree on definitive terminology to use when writing about this subject. Beyond semantic issues, the lack of a pristine definition has negatively impacted the ability of industry proponents to address reimbursement and regulatory barriers, of which there are many. In the US today, there is no universal reimbursement policy among public and private payers. Furthermore, a study published in the May issue of Telemedicine and e-Health on federal efforts to advance telehealth legislatively finds seven unique definitions of telehealth in use across the US government.
The ATA website states that the organization “has historically considered telemedicine and telehealth to be interchangeable terms, encompassing a wide definition of
remote healthcare,” which includes “patient consultations via video conferencing, transmission of still images, e-health including patient portals, remote monitoring of vital signs, continuing medical education, consumerfocused wireless applications and nursing call centers.” Frost & Sullivan generally prefers the term “telehealth” to describe a broad market that consists of various sub-segments such as mHealth, remote patient monitoring, video teleconferencing, and more. For the purpose of this report, we will use the terms telemedicine and telehealth to describe what is really numerous markets for IT solutions as well as healthcare services.
In terms of the market penetration of telemedicine in the US, ATA cites the following statistics:
- In the US, there are about 200 telemedicine networks, with 3,500 service sites.
- Nearly 1 million Americans are currently using remote cardiac monitors.
- The US Veterans Health Administration (VA) delivered over 300,000 remote consultations using telemedicine in 2011.
- Over half of all US hospitals (about 3,000) now use some form of telemedicine.
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