Consumer-Driven Healthcare Will Fuel Telehealth Opportunity

DMartin

As we all know, today healthcare revenue flows from government and employers through third-party payers, insulating consumers from true costs. In the future, purchasers—government, employers and individuals—will direct payment to the entities providing the best value. In what PwC is calling ‘the New Health Economy’, “patients” will be “consumers” first, with both the freedom and responsibility that come with making more decisions and spending their own money.

telehealth

Along those lines, in one recent survey by PwC’s Health Research Institute (HRI), consumers indicated they are willing to spend collectively up to $13.6 billion a year of their own money on medical products such as health-related video games and ratings services. At the same time, HRI estimates the ancillary health market of products and services such as personal trainers, mobile apps and vitamins generates an additional $267 billion.

As this shift to consumerism in healthcare continues to unfold in front of our eyes, there is another development taking place—not an extremely overt development led by political debates or highly publicized bill signings. But a strong movement nonetheless—telehealth.

There have been a number of recent decisions and actions that are quietly pushing the market more and more in the direction of telehealth. For example: Late last year the Department of Agriculture released more than $10 million in health-related grants in rural communities and many are using the money to purchase telehealth equipment including high-quality cameras and broadband Internet; The federal government also late last year issued rules expanding Medicare payment for a range of telehealth services; And, the end-of-year spending bill approved by Congress designated more than $26 million for telemedicine programs largely in rural communities and through the Veteran’s Administration.

But it is not just policy makers and organizations that are moving ahead. Consumers are amped up too. In another recent survey by PwC’s HRI, nearly 40 percent of 1,000 adults nationwide surveyed stated they would be willing to have an appointment with a physician via smartphone. States are also excited about the potential—according to the American Telemedicine Association, more than 40 states plus the District of Columbia allow telehealth services for beneficiaries and nearly 20 states also require private insurers to cover some remote care. And, not to be left out, almost every large payer has at least one partnership with a telehealth business. Venture capital firms are getting into the game as well, diverting their healthcare investment dollars towards telehealth. Since 2007, investment in healthcare software start-ups has experienced a 75 percent increase, compared to a 40 percent decline in medical devices.

So, while there haven’t been an overwhelming number of big splashy headlines about telehealth, it is clear that there is rapid momentum and it is here to stay. As the market becomes increasingly bullish on coupling medical care and technology, there is opportunity for many emerging growth companies that have a play in the space. However, here are also challenges, namely differentiating your company in a sea of similar companies looking to capitalize on the same market opportunity.

What’s your next move? How will you elevate your brand, articulate your value proposition and key differentiators, and reach key decision makers and audiences through a blended approach to increase reach and frequency and help move the sales needle? At PAN we’ve worked with a large number of startup and emerging growth companies across Health IT, including telehealth, looking to compete in the ever changing and rapidly growing market. We understand that not all communications strategies and tactics work for all companies. Therefore, we spend time with you understanding your business objectives (near- and long-term) in order to put in place creative, unique and impactful programs tailored especially for YOUR COMPANY. Give us a call, we’d like to help.

 

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