Blue Cross to Start Covering Telemedicine Services

Original article from Birmingham Business Journal by Alan Alexander.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama announced today that on Dec. 1 it will start providing coverage for telemedicine to meet the growing demand for health care services in rural parts of the state.

The new coverage will be geared toward telemedicine services within five categories of speciality care including cardiological conditions, behavioral health, dermatologic conditions, infectious disease and neurologic diseases.

“We are proud to support telemedicine because we want our members to have enhanced access to quality healthcare wherever they are in Alabama. With the innovative technology available today, we are now able to do just that,” saidDoug McIntyre, vice president of network operations at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama.

McIntyre also said those five specialty care categories are more suited for telemedicine, often times due to the need for additional consulting from specialists located in other cities.

“An example of a very effective use of telemedicine would be for the treatment of stroke. If a patient shows up at a rural hospital with symptoms of a stroke, the (emergency room) physician can establish a telemedicine consult with a neurologist in an urban area who would be able to view and asses the patient, view CT scans digitally, and advise on the course of treatment. This often leads to lifesaving intervention when time is most critical,” he said.

Telehealth Worth $2.8B By 2022

Original article from Health IT Outcomes by Katie Wike.

The national market for telehealth is expected to reach nearly $3 billion over the next seven years.

The current telehealth market is worth roughly $572 million, but a Grand View Research report predicts that number could reach $2.8 billion by 2022. “Key drivers of the market include rising demand for centralization of healthcare administration and enhanced quality and safety by the applications,” explains the announcement. “Furthermore, enhancing demand of mobile technologies and internet by people along with rising adoption for home care by patients or reduction in hospital visits are expected to propel the growth over the forecast period.”

Fierce Health IT notes consumer demand is a key driver for the market increase. In one case, a North Carolina facility was able to double the number of patients it could see a week thanks to telemedicine. In another case, because of its success, one new facility, the Mercy Hospital’s virtual facility, is entirely built on telemedicine services. Telehealth related legislation is also driving growth, according to the report.

Software, hardware and services were the main segments of the telehealth market. Software, which owns currently 18 percent of market share, will grow to 20.2 percent by 2022. Additionally, the hardware segment is further classified into monitors and medical peripheral devices. Monitors alone are anticipated to witness growth at nearly 20 percent.

iHealth Beat explains that the biggest vendors in the industry include:

  • Bosch Healthcare
  • GE Healthcare
  • IBM
  • Intel
  • McKesson
  • Philips Healthcare