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Telehealth essential in aging population
Eighty-nine percent of health care decision-makers believe telehealth will transform health care in the next 10 years, according to a national survey of health care and information technology professionals sponsored by Intel Corp.
Telehealth solutions, which deliver health-related services and information via telecommunications and computing technologies, are currently being used by two-thirds of health care professionals with an 87% satisfaction rate. Patient outcomes are the biggest perceived advantage to telehealth adoption, followed by additional benefits, such as more complete clinician access to patient data and early identification of health issues. Of the respondents not currently utilizing telehealth, 50% plan on implementing it within the next year, as the market for telehealth and home health monitoring is expected to grow from $3 billion in 2009 to an estimated $7.7 billion by 2012.
According to the 75 clinical decision-makers surveyed, reimbursement is the primary barrier to telehealth adoption. Despite evidence that telehealth can reduce hospital readmissions by up to 25% percent and significantly cut costs for health care organizations1, many see changes in reimbursement policy as necessary to enable wider access to telehealth care. Following reimbursement, concerns that clinical staff and patients will be unable to successfully use new technologies, despite strong evidence to the contrary in pilot studies, remain a major barrier to adoption.
1. Seto, E. Cost comparison between telemonitoring and usual care of heart failure: A systematic review. Telemed J E Health. 2008; 14(7):679-86.