"Telehealth is the use of digital information and communication technologies, such as computers and mobile devices, to access health care services remotely and manage your health care. These may be technologies you use from home or that your doctor uses to improve or support health care services" (Telehealth:Technology, 2019).
Telehealth is the, “use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support and promote long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration.” Telehealth is an amazing technological advancement in the world of healthcare. It provides many benefits that patients around the country can easily enjoy. Most of these benefits come from telehealth being very cost effective. First, travel is not necessary when telehealth technologies are being utilized. This saves a lot of money in the form of travel expenses. Second, patients can experience the traditional doctor appointments or visits from the comfort of their home. This a tremendous benefit because some patients may have chronic illnesses that make it quite difficult to travel away from their homes. The benefit of safety is also introduced because patients do not need to travel in the winter to be seen by a specialist.
Telehealth is in the beginning stage of its life cycle. Thus, business savvy individuals can make huge strides in this market segment. Despite all the value that telehealth brings to the healthcare field, they cannot be enjoyed due to a few issues. Most of these problems are related to the business side of telehealth. First, due to telehealth being in the beginning stages of its life cycle, the probability of a successful telehealth business is very low. According to forbes.com, “90% of startups fail" (Patel, 2015). Telehealth is most definitely in the startup phase and can be very difficult to generate profits. Mary Lowry, who is the director of Dartmouth-Hitchcock health system’s Center for Telehealth has experienced this first hand. During an interview, she was asked about why their Telehealth Center was running at a loss every year. Her response was, “It's not our choice, our goal is to get to be self-sustaining… Emergency and ICU are tend to be more expensive services, neurology and both from a capital and an operating perspective, neurology and psychiatry tend to be less expensive services, but as again that whole portfolio of services our goal is to grow adequately and to have enough scale so that we can be self-sustaining.” Another issue pertains to telehealth and its awareness. Previous research shows that many people do not have up to date knowledge on telehealth and therefore we must educate those around us. According to americantelemed.org, “One in 10 Americans Use Telehealth, But Nearly 75% Lack Awareness or Access" (Effler, 2019). This is a massive finding and really shows many Americans are missing out on the benefits that telehealth provides. Since not many people are familiar with telehealth, it is important to take promotional and marketing initiatives. Marketing is “the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.” A proper marketing initiative will have a significant impact on the future of Telehealth. From a business perspective, entrepreneurs and hospitals need to invest in promotional materials such as commercials, brochures, flyers, posters, catalogs and endorsements. For example, truth is an anti-tobacco campaign company who started releasing commercials on the dangers of the carcinogen. More recently, the FDA has released its first anti vaping television commercial. With enough consistency, telehealth’s popularity will increase with the investment of promotional materials that show the benefits that can be enjoyed. This will allow telehealth to break out of its startup phase and become a profitably mature industry. Marketing for telehealth is a huge necessity and will ultimately lead to successfully integrating telehealth into the future of healthcare, as well as creating better patient outcomes, and improving overall satisfaction with the care being delivered.