Healthcare reform has generated dramatically new approaches to care delivery. Telemedicine — one of the fastest growing segments in the health care industry — is built on a patient-centered foundation that focuses on keeping people healthy, partly by encouraging them to become more active participants in their own health management.
Health Affairs projected the domestic telehealth market would reach $1.9 billion by 2018 – a 50% annual increase. Increased demand in the healthcare industry and high fines for readmission rates waged against hospitals are among several factors that contribute to this growth.
There are three components that qualify a technology as telemedicine:
- Provision of healthcare services,
- Delivery of these services via Information and Communications Technology (ICT), and
- Supporting a goal of overcoming geographical separation of patient and/or provider(s).
Telemedicine isn’t a new idea, but the types of solutions available are becoming much easier to use. The ability to access healthcare applications using wireless, Internet-accessible devices (such as smartphones, tablets and laptops) is critical to the success of telemedicine.