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67 Surprising Telemedicine Facts You Should Know

Posted by Teresa Iafolla, Jun 20, 2016

As demand for virtual healthcare grows, so too does the demand for telemedicine facts and statistics. These stats support physicians’ decisions to provide telemedicine services and the adoption of telemedicine parity laws by state and federal governments. Telemedicine statistics can also clear up concerns patients may have about this new healthcare delivery model.

We’ve scoured healthcare studies, news publications, industry journals, and medical associations’ educational materials for the following 67 telemedicine stats that will shed light on the growth of telemedicine, its benefits, and how it cuts down on costs for physicians and patients.

The Growth of Telemedicine

  1. More than half of all U.S. hospitals currently have a telemedicine program.1
  2. An estimated 200 existing telemedicine networks in the U.S. provide connectivity to more than 3,000 sites in rural and suburban areas.1
  3. The number of states with telemedicine parity laws, which require private insurers to offer coverage for services rendered via telemedicine that are comparable to in-person visits, has approximately doubled over the past three years.2
  4. In the U.S., 29 states have telemedicine parity laws for private insurance.3
  5. In the U.S., 23 states and the District of Columbia have enacted full telemedicine parity laws. 2
  6. In the U.S., 48 state Medicaid agencies offer some type of coverage for telemedicine services. 2
  7. In the U.S., 24 states offer some telemedicine coverage under their state employee health plans.2
  8. The number of patients using telemedicine services will increase to 7 million in 2018, up from less than 350,000 in 2013.4
  9. The global telemedicine technologies market, including hardware, software, and services, was valued at $17.8 billion in 2014.5
  10. The global telemedicine technologies market is predicted to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 18.4% from 2014 to 2020.5
  11. There will be about 800,000 online consultations in the U.S. in 2015.6
  12. About 90% of surveyed healthcare executives report that their organizations have already begun developing or implementing a telemedicine program.7
  13. About 84% of surveyed healthcare executives felt that the development of telemedicine services is either very important (52%) or important (32%) to their organizations.7
  14. One-third of surveyed physicians said they adjusted their business models to be more flexible to accommodate changing models of care, including the adoption of telemedicine.8
  15. Virtual visits were the top new service offered by the surveyed physicians, including just over half of the group.8
  16. About 22% of employers with 1,000 or more employees currently offer telemedicine services.9
  17. Another 37% of employers planned to offer telemedicine services to their employees by the end of 2015.9
  18. The three states with the highest telemedicine adoption rates are Alaska (75%), Arkansas (71%), and South Dakota (70%).10
  19. Telemedicine makes up nearly one-fourth of the health IT market.11
  20. The health IT market, including telemedicine technologies, was valued at $15.6 billion in 2014 and is expected to increase to nearly $20 billion by 2019 with a compound annual growth rate of 4.8%.11
  21. More than 200 telemedicine bills were introduced in state legislatures nationwide in 2015.12
  22. All but eight state legislatures introduced at least one telemedicine-related bill in 2015.12
  23. As of May 2016, Congress had enacted three bills which could affect telemedicine across the country.13
  24. As of May 2016, another 21 bills were pending in the Senate and 25 in the House (some of which overlapped).13
  25. The number of telemedicine visits provided to Medicare beneficiaries increased by 28% per year from 2004 to 2013, for a total of 107,000 visits provided in 2013.14
  26. For telemedicine vendors, the market of eligible beneficiaries for telemedicine services increased by at least ten-fold in the five years leading up to 2014.15
  27. The first telemedicine-type device, called the teledactyl, was featured in Science and Invention magazine in 1925. However, the invention, which would have resembled today’s remote video consultation, never made it beyond the concept stage.16
  28. The 1950s saw some of the earliest telemedicine technologies put to use, when two Pennsylvania health centers separated by about 24 miles transmitted radiologic images via telephone.17

How Patients Feel About Telemedicine

  1. About 74% of patients in the U.S. would use telehealth services.18
  2. About eight in 10 surveyed patients said they would be open to non-traditional methods of care delivery.8
  3. Most patients are comfortable with having all of their health records securely available on the cloud.19
  4. About 74% of patients are comfortable with communicating with their doctors using technology instead of seeing them in person.19
  5. About 76% of patients care more about access to healthcare than need for human interactions with their healthcare providers.20
  6. Only 16% of patients would prefer to go to the emergency room for a minor ailment if they also could access telemedicine services.21
  7. About 67% of patients said that using telemedicine somewhat or significantly increases their satisfaction with medical care.21
  8. About 30% of patients already use computers or mobile devices to check their medical or diagnostic information.20

 

Telemedicine in Action

  1. After telemedicine services were employed by the Veterans Health Administration post-cardiac arrest care program, hospital readmissions decreased by 51% for heart failure and 44% for other illnesses.20
  2. According to a study on the Geisinger Health Plan, patient readmissions were 44% lower over 30 days and 38% lower over 90 days, compared to patients not enrolled in the telemedicine program.20
  3. A study of the outcomes of care for 8,000 patients who used telemedicine services found no difference between the virtual appointment and an in-person office visit.22
  4. About 21% of patients who have used telemedicine services say the quality of care was similar to or higher than an in-person visit.21
  5. Sinusitis was the most common diagnosis treated during telemedicine visits, about 20% of visits on average.15
  6. The next two most common diagnoses were cold/flu/pertussis at an average of 12% of visits and bladder or urinary tract infections at 6% of visits. 15
  7. Physicians resolved about 60% of telemedicine visits with a prescription, according to vendors in one survey. 15
  8. Of the Medicare beneficiaries in 2013, disabled beneficiaries with mental illness were the most likely to use telemedicine services, and the vast majority of visits were to diagnose and treat mental health conditions.14
  9. Patients that used a telemedicine system to self-report blood pressure and other health data remotely saw improvements in their blood pressure (lowered by average of 19 mmHg in systolic rate compared to 12 mmHg averaged by the control group) and efforts to make positive lifestyle changes.23

 

Benefits of Telemedicine

  1. Half of surveyed healthcare executives ranked improving the quality of care as their top reason for implementing telemedicine.7
  2. Nearly one in surveyed healthcare executives (18%) were most excited about reaching new patients.7
  3. About 42.5% of one survey’s health system respondents found that their primary motivation behind investing in telemedicine tools was filling in gaps in care.24
  4. When asked what the top benefit of telemedicine was, about 19% of surveyed health system respondents said it was the ability to provide round-the-clock care.24
  5. The next top-rated benefit of telemedicine was the ability to provide remote consultations to patients, with 18.4% of the votes.24
  6. Almost 75% of all doctor, urgent care, and ER visits are either unnecessary or could be handled safely and effectively over the phone or video.22
  7. In one survey, 21% of patients said not having to travel to the doctor’s visit was the top benefit of telemedicine.21
  8. Another 20% of surveyed patients said the ability to be cared for from their homes was telemedicine’s top benefit.21
  9. About 53% of patients said that telemedicine somewhat or significantly increases their involvement in treatment decisions.21
  10. Physicians are able to resolve patients’ issues during an initial telemedicine visit 83% of the time on average.15
  11. In a 2014 survey of 15 physician practices in 15 metropolitan areas across the U.S., the average wait time for a new patient to see a physician in five surveyed medical specialties was 18.5 days.25

 

Cost Savings from Telemedicine

  1. U.S. employers could save up to $6 billion per year by providing telemedicine technologies to their employees.9
  2. The Geisinger Health Plan study found that implementation of a telemedicine program generated about 11% in cost savings during that study period.20
  3. The estimated return on investment for a telemedicine program was about $3.30 in cost savings for every $1 spent on program implementation, according to the Geisinger Health Plan study.20
  4. A proposed bill that would expand telemedicine for Medicare beneficiaries (the CONNECT for Health Act) could generate an estimated savings of $1.8 billion for the Medicare program.26
  5. Telemedicine visits generally cost a patient a direct convenience fee that ranges from $35 to $125 per visit, which may on top of or in place of reimbursement through a third-party payer.27
  6. Patients could save an average of $126 per commercial telehealth visit as compared to costs of other healthcare settings, assuming the average telehealth visit costs $50.15

 

Patients in Rural Areas

  1. About 20% of Americans live in rural areas without easy access to primary care or specialist medical services.20
  2. Patients in rural areas have limited access to medical specialists; on average, there are only 40 specialists serving a 100,000 rural population.28
  3. Only about one in 10 physicians practice in rural areas in the U.S.28
  4. In one survey, 44.3% of healthcare system respondents said that patient care gaps due to community remoteness were the main reason for adopting telemedicine.24
  5. Adoption numbers for telemedicine are significantly higher at hospitals in more rural areas as compared to urban areas.10

 

Special thanks to the sources of our statistics: American Telemedicine AssociationGlobal Telemedicine Market Outlook 2020Foley and Lardner LLPTowers Watson, Center for Connected Health PolicyBCC ResearchIHS TechnologyNTT DataCiscoAmerican Hospital AssociationSoftware Advice, Journal of the American Medical AssociationHIMSS Analytics, American Medical Association and Wellness Council of America, Merritt Hawkins, National Rural Health Association, PwC, National Conference of State Legislatures, Alliance for Connected Care, Smithsonian.com, Institute of Medicine, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and Third Way via Avalere Health.

 

  1. http://www.americantelemed.org/about-telemedicine/faqs#.Vco0MPlViko
  2. http://www.americantelemed.org/docs/default-source/policy/50-state-telemedicine-gaps-analysis---coverage-and-reimbursement.pdf
  3. http://www.americantelemed.org/docs/default-source/policy/2016_50-state-telehealth-gaps-analysis--coverage-and-reimbursement.pdf?sfvrsn=2
  4. http://press.ihs.com/press-release/design-supply-chain-media/global-telehealth-market-set-expand-tenfold-2018
  5. http://www.researchandmarkets.com/research/qn3csn/global
  6. http://medcitynews.com/2015/05/new-ata-president-tuckson-calls-telehealth-mainstream/
  7. http://www.foley.com/2014-telemedicine-survey-executive-summary/
  8. http://pwchealth.com/cgi-local/hregister.cgi/reg/pwc-hri-primary-care-new-economy-2016.pdf
  9. http://www.towerswatson.com/en/Press/2014/08/current-telemedicine-technology-could-mean-big-savings
  10. http://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/telehealth-takes-nationwide
  11. http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/05/prweb12736376.htm
  12. http://mobihealthnews.com/content/state-lawmakers-introduced-more-200-telemedicine-bills-2015
  13. http://www.americantelemed.org/docs/default-source/policy/_114th-congress-bills.pdf?sfvrsn=2
  14. http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2520619 / http://medicalxpress.com/news/2016-05-telemedicine-rural-medicare-beneficiaries.html
  15. http://www.connectwithcare.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Medicare-Acute-Care-Telehealth-Feasibility.pdf
  16. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/telemedicine-predicted-in-1925-124140942/?no-ist
  17. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK45445/
  18. http://americas.nttdata.com/Industries/Industries/Healthcare/~/media/Documents/White-Papers/Trends-in-Telehealth-White-Paper.pdf
  19. http://newsroom.cisco.com/press-release-content?type=webcontent&articleId=1148539
  20. The Promise of Telehealth For Hospitals, Health Systems and Their Communities,TrendWatch, January 2015
  21. http://www.softwareadvice.com/medical/industryview/telemedicine-report-2015/
  22. https://www.poweredbyc2.com/details.aspx?p=BFC9674642988AE3&ppid=94350&beid=0DEC3E4079E23759
  23. http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-03/acoc-prv030613.php
  24. http://www.fiercehealthit.com/story/himss-analytics-most-providers-adopt-telemedicine-close-patient-care-gaps/2014-08-14
  25. http://www.merritthawkins.com/uploadedFiles/MerrittHawkings/Surveys/mha2014waitsurvPDF.pdf
  26. http://go.avalere.com/acton/attachment/12909/f-0292/1/-/-/-/-/20160129_Telehealth%20and%20RPM%20Scoring%20Memo.pdf
  27. http://evisit.com/what-is-telemedicine/
  28. http://www.ruralhealthweb.org/go/left/about-rural-health/what-s-different-about-rural-health-care

 

Topics: eVisit Blog Posts, health technology, mobile health, Patient Engagement, patient outcomes, telehealth, telehealth statistics, Telemedicine

Teresa Iafolla

About Teresa Iafolla

Teresa Iafolla is an expert writer, researcher, and content wrangler who has previously worked as director of content marketing for a telehealth company and associate editor for a healthcare publishing company.

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