Technology pervades every sector of our economy, and certainly has impacted the health care industry. One example is telemedicine. Telemedicine has the potential to exponentially expand a provider’s geographic footprint, efficiently leverage a doctor’s time and dramatically reduce barriers to patient interaction. Our recent survey of senior-level health care executives indicates that telemedicine technology is becoming key to improving the access and quality of care for communities. It has also drawn a lot of attention in the venture capital market.
Half of the respondents in our survey identified quality of care as their primary motivation for implementing telemedicine. In terms of what telemedicine practices these providers have in place, a majority of respondents already offer remote monitoring (64 percent), store-and-forward technology (54 percent), and real-time interaction capabilities (52 percent). In addition, 39 percent have services that qualify as “mHealth” — patient-driven apps and online portals.
Telemedicine technology has become big business for the tech sector. As a recent The Motley Fool article stated, “Reaching more patients at a lower cost while making health care access more convenient — what’s not to like?”
For example, Michigan-based Health Net Connect, the telehealth subsidiary of J&B Medical Supply Co. Inc., is developing a preferred vendor relationship with the United Nations to deliver telehealth devices to remote parts of the world to help connect providers with urban medical centers. Health Net Connect projects revenue for 2014 to exceed $18 million, as compared to $1 million in revenue in 2013, and the company is putting plans in place to issue an initial public offering within the next two years to finance its global expansion.
This excitement also is reflected in the rapid growth in interest in telemedicine technologies in the venture capital market. U.S. employers spend approximately $620 billion annually on health care benefits, and investors recognize the role the technology plays in reducing costs. According to Rock Health, a start-up incubator, funding for digital health care technology companies reached $2.3 billion in June of this year — surpassing 2013 investments.
As telemedicine technology use increases within the health care industry, it will continue to generate interest within the investment community.