European telemedicine vendors adapt to advances in technology
New analysis from market research firm Frost & Sullivan has revealed that the European telemedicine market generated revenues of $118 million in 2007 and is estimated to reach $236 million by 2014.

Although the European telemedicine industry has achieved significant progress, certain technological advances have inadvertently led to new hurdles, including the greater need for standards and physician acceptance of novel telemedicine technologies. Effective telemedicine technology will increase the number of patients that physicians treat remotely and lower the costs and travel times associated with treatment, according to Frost & Sullivan.

“While it is apparent that the telemedicine industry is in the midst of great change, it is not clear how the industry will look in the years to come,” stated Frost & Sullivan research analyst Janani Narasimhan. “Technological developments have the potential to not only alleviate the current growing pains but also provide some solutions for the major challenges facing the business of telemedicine delivery.”

Narasimhan noted that new telemedicine networks will be able to take advantage of recent improvements in telecommunications infrastructure and the growth in digital communications and will have numerous applications in telemedicine.

According to Frost & Sullivan, many market participants are looking to lower the cost of technologies to widen the deployment of telemedicine, while health organizations are increasingly using telehealth technology to monitor patients remotely. However, the lack of payor reimbursement is a major barrier to broader adoption, as well as questionable returns on investment, the report said.

“The high cost of operation has led to the perception among early adopters that telehealth costs must fall to nearly one-third to one-fifth of their present prices before they become widespread and easily accessible,” explained Narasimhan.

According to the report, governments will be compelled to adopt certain e-health strategies accompanied by concrete actions, if they wish to keep pace with future demands for healthcare and reduce escalating healthcare costs.

“As the number of households connected to the internet grows, the number of websites/portals dedicated to patients with specific diseases will expand as well. This trend will also increase online communication between doctors and patients, auguring well for market expansion,” the report concluded.