By Russ Alan Prince, Forbes, Contributor
APRIL 15, 2015 – The future of healthcare delivery is telemedicine. However, the business models that will dominate the industry fostering better healthcare and creating tremendous new private wealth have yet to be determined.
Advances in mobile technology underpins telemedicine; a new and valuable (likely essential) tool in the effective delivery of healthcare by hospitals and doctors. Daniel Carlin, CEO and founder of the premier concierge telemedicine practice, WorldClinic, cites a number of core applications of telemedicine including:
- Facilitating care from diagnosis to treatment.
- Improving chronic disease management.
- Provide consults with specialists without the need to travel.
- Lower costs of medical services while saving time for patients.
Presently, telemedicine is not a complete solution. Without talented and knowledgeable physicians on the other end of the mobile technologies, the value of telemedicine becomes negligible. What is clear is that telemedicine will transform the delivery of healthcare. In the transformation it will produce astronomical amounts of new private wealth including more than a handful of new billionaires.
Presently, the industry is currently device centric as the technology is ahead of real world applications. “This is a classic example of the cart leading the horse,” explains Carlin. “Devices need to be tied to a physician and care team for useful applications. There are a number of very promising devices and many that will fail because they are not appropriately integrated with the clinical workflow of every day medical practice.” Industry-wide, there is a strong drive to connect them to true care, but the reality is that few devices have succeeded to date. Putting these pieces together is going to be essential for any successful business model.
Third party reimbursement codes are new this year for telemedicine. This signals the realization that this is “real medicine” that is worth paying for. The acceptance of telemedicine by insurers opens the door for the scaling of the industry. Very importantly, it establishes the financial underpinning of the industry.
As various business models are tried – with some succeeding, others failing, and many somewhere in the middle – there will be a distilling of what works and why. Those business models that produce real world solutions cost effectively will gain traction eclipsing the rest. However, it’s still too early to tell who the winners will be.