“Telemedicine” or “telehealth” is a practice meant to get medical care out of the hospital and to where the people are. Driven by the evolution of technology and made easy by the multitude of electronic means of communication, telemedicine debuted in the 1990s, allowing people to receive healthcare even in hard-to-reach areas.
Worldwide, doctors and hospitals are using phones, e-mail and video-call apps to be linked with their patients, while the patients use new technology to communicate their blood pressure or heart rate in real time, making chronic conditions easier to manage remotely.
A study conducted by Cisco, a worldwide leader in IT, in 2015, has shown that more than 60% of telehealth consumers prefer being treated by a specialist using virtual technology, instead of seeing them in person.
When it comes to employee health benefits offered by companies, a Towers Watson study shows that 22% of employers with 1,000 or more employees currently offer telemedicine services, and the percentage is constantly rising.
The increasing popularity and use of telemedicine has caused a big number of insurers to partner with providers, including telemedicine, as a part of their health insurance plans. According to Cisco, the interest shown in this area will see the number of patients treated remotely increase from 350,000 in 2013 to 7 million in 2018, while the health insurance market value will reach $20 billion, by 2019.