Since the pandemic began in 2020, the practice of telemedicine has grown rapidly. Today, it continues to grow, showing no signs of slowing.
Telemedicine offers many conveniences, allowing physicians and other medical professionals to conduct video calls with patients. Patients don’t have to travel for appointments. Physicians are able to treat more patients, tend to see fewer cancellations, and enjoy expedited work.
The oldest form of telemedicine is teleradiology, which has been used by radiologists since the 1970’s to transfer CTs, X-rays, and MRIs to professionals at other locations.
During the past two years, employers started to offer fully remote telemedicine positions, jobs in which physicians do the vast majority of work virtually.
View current open telemedicine positions.
7 Facts & Stats about Telemedicine
What’s been going on in the field? Lots! Here’s a look at a few eye-opening facts and stats regarding telemedicine.
- Physicians and patients like telemedicine. The practice is convenient and easy, and both groups want to see it continue. A significant 79% of patients said they were “Very satisfied” with the care received on their last telehealth visit. 73% state they would like to continue using telehealth, according to the Covid-19 Telehealth Impact Study conducted by the Healthcare Coalition.
- Patients feel their personal info is secure. In our current wired age in which records are fully electronic (or nearly so), security is understandably a concern. Yet many patients are trusting of the security measures behind telemedicine. Approx. 84% of consumers were confident their personal information was secure and private during visits, reports the AMA.
- About half of all physicians are using telehealth. Though the practice has been used for some years now, it has seen a large boost in the age of Covid. Up 18% from just two years ago, now 48% of physicians use telemedicine, according to a Merritt Hawkins survey.
- The telehealth market is producing significant revenues. Before Covid, annual earnings for telehealth providers in the U.S. were approx. $3 billion (with urgent care the dominant use among large vendors). McKinsey estimates the virtual market could top $250 billion in the coming years.
- An investment of $20 million by the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services will empower telemedicine. These government funds will go primarily to rural and underserved areas, with ample budgeting for technology and training of physicians.
- The largest increase in telemedicine use is among Hispanics. Hispanics, low income consumers, and underserved populations all saw increases in the use of telemedicine, as reported in a study in 2021 by Chief Healthcare Executive.
- Most employees who have used telehealth will continue to do so. A report issued by Mercer states that 72% of employees want to continue to use telehealth after trying it for the first time during the pandemic.
Advantages of telemedicine
For patients, the practice offers many conveniences, including:
- No need for transportation, no costs in fuel, no loss of time in travel
- No or reduced need for childcare, eldercare, and related services
- Don’t have to take time off work
- No time spent in the waiting room, and no risk of infection from others
- Better and easier access to specialists
Physician benefits come in greater efficiency in real-time virtual visits, the easy store-and-forward of patient data, and the availability of remote patient monitoring, among others.
What are the cons of telemedicine? For one, in-person physical exams are not possible. And, there can be some complexity around understanding regulations, which vary by state and can be confusing.
Overall, telemedicine offers a lower cost compared to in-person visits and helps keep overall healthcare costs down. The technology behind virtual care ultimately saves patients and providers money and time.
What does the future hold for telemedicine?
It appears there will be no turning back the clock. Mostly likely we will see further increases in the use of technology in medicine. Check back and we’ll keep you posted as time goes on!