ATA Show Draws 4,500
The telemedicine industry is undergoing rapid growth with many new companies, much like the EHR industry six-eight years ago.
The American Telemedicine Assn. (ATA) annual conference, which wrapped up today in San Jose, attracted 4,500 attendees and 220 vendors, a record crowd.
Jasper Zu Putlitz, MD, the president of Bosch Healthcare, noted in a Monday panel discussion that until recently telemedicine had been held back by the “business model problem.” In the past, it has been difficult to obtain reimbursement for telemedicine services. Health plans general did not reimburse physicians for telemedicine consultations, based on the fact it was not a “face-to-face encounter.”
That is changing, however, due to new emphasis by Medicare and private payers on preventing hospital readmissions and adoption of ACO payment models. Now a number of organizations including insurers, hospitals, retail pharmacists and self-insured employers are willing to pay for telemedicine services.
Telemedicine has been proven effective in several areas. One of the most cost-effective cases can be made for placement of in-home monitoring devices for patients with chronic heart disease. Daily monitoring of blood pressure and weight can trigger a nurse call and prevent an ER visit.
The Bosch CEO noted that in the future, 20-40% of all medical consultations could be conducted via telemedicine.
At another panel discussion, Frost & Sullivan analyst Zach Bujnoch outlined the four primary telemedicine markets that currently exist.
1. Remote monitoring market
Submarkets include home and disease management monitoring, diabetes management, activity monitoring and wellness programs.
Submarkets include professional/clinical apps, wellness apps, fitness apps and texting informational services.
3. Video telemedicine
Submarkets include video diagnostic consultation, remote doctor/specialist services and distance learning/simulation.
4. Healthcare information management systems
Submarkets include EHRs, health information exchange, tele-imaging, patient portals and hosted cloud infrastructure.
Several speakers noted the lack of standards for communication and data storage, what one called “the air traffic control problem.” One speaker said the industry is “in danger” of becoming like the EHR industry, where different vendors cannot exchange information with each other.