According to a new report from Parks Associates, the number of families utilizing video consultations for access to a physician is set to increase from 900,000 households in 2013 to 22.6 million in 2018. This coincides with another report put out by Grand View Research, a market analysis and consulting firm in San Fransisco, that states the mobile-health (or mHealth) industry is set to surpass $49.1 billion in revenue by the year 2020. Parks Associates also finds that, “patients between the ages of 18 and 34 who have an annual household income of $50,000 or more are currently the heaviest users of online healthcare communications tools,” according to a quote from Mobihealthnews.com covering the report.

While younger generations are generally more adaptable to growing technological advancements and are more successful at utilizing digital platforms, older generations or rural families who do not have proper access or knowledge of these new technologies cannot be left behind. A bipartisan bill put forth by U.S. Representatives Gregg Harper of Mississippi, Mike Thompson and Devin Nunes of California, and Peter Welch of Vermont, looks to facilitate a connection for older/rural patients with physicians and healthcare providers through the use of telemedicine. The bill, titled the Telehealth Enhancement Act, would provide benefits for users of Medicare and Medicaid programs. Here are some key points from the bill proposal:

  •  While Medicare doesn’t currently utilize telemedicine as well as Medicaid, individual states hvae made progress in paving the way for telemedicine to become a nation-wide norm.
  • The advancement of telehealth networks is the greatest, most economical solution to a lack of physicians in areas with limited access.
  • The bill focuses on the expansion of telemedicine services in Medicare and Medicaid coverage, rural communities, and high-density metropolitan areas.

The U.S. Representatives informative commentary reported on Rollcall.com quotes, “this is the time to explore how to use telehealth and other technologies to improve patient access and health outcomes. This is the time to find ways to efficiently meet the growing demands of our aging population. This is the time to find creative and innovative ways to bend the health care cost curve and save Medicare and Medicaid money. The Telehealth Enhancement Act does just that.”

 

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