Health IT

U.S. telehealth patient population to grow to 1.3 million by 2017 from 227,400

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A desire to curtail costs is fueling a growth in U.S. telehealth patient population as a new report projects that the number is set to rise to 1.3 million by 2017.

That is nearly a six fold increase in the number of patients that sought telehealth solutions in 2012 – 227,400. Telehealth or telemedicine or remote monitoring is the activity of using medical devices and communication technology in concert to monitor chronic diseases as well as symptoms that could develop into serious conditions.

For instance, patients with implanted defibrillators and pacemakers can be monitored from afar to ensure that their heart rhythm is being maintained.

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“The cost of healthcare is a critical issue in the United States, with nearly one of every five dollars’ worth of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) going to medical expenditures,” said Theo Ahadome, senior analyst at IMS Research, which compiled the report, in a news release. “Telehealth can help mitigate these costs by reducing the number of patient readmissions and cutting down on in-home care visits. Because of this, the United States is the world’s largest market for telehealth, driving the growth of the worldwide business.”

In a separate report, IMS Research projected that Obamacare or healthcare reform is projected to boost telehealth market by 55 percent in 2013.

A senior manager at IHS which acquired IMS Research said that telemedicine can reduce a variety of healthcare costs including the amount spent on Medicare.

“For one, telehealth can reduce re-hospitalization, a major medical cost. Readmission penalties are creating federally driven demand for telehealth to slash such costs. Furthermore, telehealth can cut down the number of registered nurse (RN) visits for home care, saving in excess of $1,000 per patient,” said Shane Walker, senior manager, consumer &digital health research for IHS, in a news release.

[Photo Credit: Stethoscope on Keyboard from Big Stock Photo]

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