Telehealth is projected to be increasingly incorporated into post-acute care strategies from 2013, providing a strong impetus for market growth. These are the latest findings of medical research group InMedica (Wellingborough, United Kingdom).
According to the report, from 2010 to 2011 usage of remote patient monitoring (telehealth) increased by 22.2%, as the number of patients enrolled worldwide reached 241,200. Telehealth device revenues, on the other hand, only grew by 5% during the same period. The slow revenue growth is attributed to poor economic conditions and ambiguity on the impact of healthcare reform and readmission penalties. This is set to change in 2013, when telehealth will be listed by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS; Baltimore, MD, USA) as one of 13 possible models to reduce readmissions. Healthcare payers are also projected to adopt telehealth as a population management tool to reduce in-patient costs.
Despite criticism of health care reform, it is clear that the long-term goals of the CMS are to move toward greater continuity of care while reducing costs, through the avoidance of unnecessary duplication of services, which will require a period of transition. In this context, telehealth is a tool that could significantly improve clinical outcomes, while also achieving the ends of government initiatives. This is evident by revenue growth that reached 18% in 2011–2012, and InMedica forecasts that in 2013, the telehealth market will grow by 55% worldwide, in terms of device and service revenues.
“Telehealth vendors and other stakeholders have an opportunity to help healthcare providers to develop an effective post-acute care strategy. For telehealth to succeed in reaching a wider audience, it needs to break out of being a niche market and become part of a comprehensive patient-care model,” said Theo Ahadome, a senior analyst with InMedica. “This is even more important in the post-acute care market where healthcare providers are more willing to pay for telehealth if it is part of a total post-acute care model.”
Of particular concern to the US government is the rise of chronic conditions such as heart failure (HF), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and obesity in a rapidly aging population. Recent data from the US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC; Atlanta, GA, USA) indicate that 30% of adults 20 years of age and older (60 million people) are clinically obese. It is possible that such high rates of obesity could lead to a further explosion in cardiovascular diseases, back pain, and diabetes, providing additional impetus for healthcare growth as a result.
Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services
US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention