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Usage of Telemedicine to Increase in US, says Towers Watson

August 12, 2014

Telemedicine technology is catching up very fast all over the world, making use of IT to exchange medical data to deliver consultations, procedures, exams and monitoring services over vast geographic distances.

Particularly, this technology has been gaining much traction in the United States. Many health care organizations and numerous government agencies tout it as a way to reduce unnecessary hospital visits, offering specialized services to isolated, homebound or underserved populations.

Towers Watson, a global professional services company, after a detailed survey, has predicted that the use of telemedicine will drastically increase in the U.S.  Altogether, there will be 68 percent increase in the number of employers offering telemedicine by 2015.

This figure is expected to go up because of the lower costs of telemedicine technology, which is making way for insurance companies to back telemedicine, majorly cutting costs.

“While this analysis highlights a maximum potential savings, even a significantly lower level of use could generate hundreds of millions of dollars in savings,” said Dr. Allan Khoury, a senior consultant at Towers Watson. “Achieving this savings requires a shift in patient and physician mindsets, health plan willingness to integrate and reimburse such services, and regulatory support in all states.”

Towers Watson’s survey found that by 2015, 37 percent of employers expect to offer their employees telemedicine consultations as a low-cost alternative to emergency room or physician office visits for nonemergency health issues.

Presently, 22 percent of employers offer such telemedicine programs, a percentage expected to rise to 37 percent, a drastic increase. These percentages are built on Towers Watson’s 2014 ‘Health Care Changes Ahead Survey’ of U.S. employers with at least 1,000 employees.

Khoury further said that Telemedicine is just one piece of a broader telehealth spectrum that includes video, apps, kiosks, virtual visits, wearable devices and other advancements.

Edited by Adam Brandt

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