U.S. telehealth patients to rise nearly sixfold by 2017, as medical providers strive to cut costs
El Segundo, Calif. (March 13, 2013)—With U.S. medical expenditures set to increase to more than $3.7 trillion in 2017, American healthcare providers looking to cut costs are turning to a communications-based method of monitoring known as telehealth, with the number of patients using such services expected to rise by nearly a factor of six from 2012 to 2017.
The number of American medical patients using telehealth services is set to grow to 1.3 million in 2017, up from 227,000 in 2012, according a new report from IMS Research, now part of IHS (NYSE: IHS).
Telehealth is defined as the use of medical devices and communication technology to monitor chronic diseases and symptoms that could develop into serious conditions.
Using telehealth, medical professionals can remotely monitor patients at any point in the world for conditions including congestive heart failure (CHF), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes, hypertension and mental health conditions. The majority of those people treated using telehealth are post-acute patients who have been hospitalized and discharged.
“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 InMedica. “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.”
The cure for high healthcare costs
Healthcare costs in the United States in 2012 accounted for 17.9 percent of GDP, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). This total is expected to rise to 18.4 percent in 2017.
U.S. per capita spending on medical needs in 2017 is forecast to climb to $11,360, up from $8,953 in 2012.
As enrollees increase, Medicare spending in the United States is projected to increase to $755 billion in 2017, up from an estimated $591 billion in 2012.
“Telehealth can reduce these costs in several ways,” said Shane Walker, senior manager, consumer &digital health research for IHS. “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.”
U.S. leads the telehealth craze
The United States now represents nearly 75 percent of the worldwide patient population utilizing telehealth. With a focus on trimming costs, the country will continue to drive worldwide market growth.
U.S. telehealth revenue is set to rise to $707.9 million in 2017, up by a factor of four from $174.5 million in 2012.
Other countries are also promoting telehealth as a long-term cost-saving measure, with the largest numbers to be driven by the United Kingdom, Germany and China. For the near term, advances in telehealth implementation in these key countries will increase their share of the worldwide market to 35 percent in 2017, up from 25 percent in 2012.