Telehealth, or virtual care, is becoming increasingly important in day-to-day healthcare practices because it provides affordable, high quality, and efficient care.
Virtual care involves activities including medical training, monitoring, and education with the support of telecommunication technologies. It includes the necessary software, hardware, and network infrastructure, and is typically used to deal with minor illnesses.
Virtual care offers benefits such as an increase in the reach of specialty care resources, reduced costs, improvement in patient compliance, and efficient delivery of continuing education for medical professionals. It also helps to eliminate fraud.
Driving the growth of virtual care are rising penetration of smartphones, increasing acceptance of integrated business models in the healthcare industry, rising popularity of the virtual care market, and increasing shortages of primary care providers.
Limiting factors include speed and connectivity issues, cross-state licensure requirements, limited reimbursement through Medicare and private insurers, resistance by professionals and patients to change, privacy and data security issues, and up-front costs required before a virtual care program can be implemented.
The video-based virtual care platform is anticipated to have the largest market share, followed by audio, kiosk, messaging, or chat. Cloud-based apps are predicted to grow as patients come to appreciate their convenience; they can also enable providers to handle remote care programs.
Carena (now Avizia), a McKesson Ventures portfolio company, is one of the key players in the field of virtual care. Other well-positioned companies include Teladoc, MDLIVE, AMD Global Telemedicine, AT&T, American Well Corporation, CHI Health, Premera Blue Cross, United HealthCare, Integrity Urgent Care, MedSpring, and edgeMED Healthcare.
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