Intel survey: Telehealth usage to increase over the next decade

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The U.S. healthcare delivery will undergo dramatic changes over the next 10 years through the adoption of telehealth, according to a survey of health and IT professionals sponsored by Intel, and released during the annual meeting of the American Telemedicine Association in San Antonio.

The report found that a majority of decision makers believe that the emergence of telehealth will have a “major role” in improving the quality and delivery of care to an increasingly chronically ill and aging population.

Telehealth technologies are currently being used by two-thirds of healthcare professionals with an 87 percent satisfaction rate, according to those surveyed. The professionals believe that improved patient outcomes are the biggest perceived advantage to telehealth adoption, followed by additional benefits such as more complete clinician access to patient data and early identification of health issues.

Of the respondents not currently utilizing telehealth, 50 percent plan to implement it within the next year as the market for telehealth and home health monitoring is expected to grow from $3 billion in 2009 to an estimated $7.7 billion by 2012, Intel reported.

“The survey demonstrates the increasing need to shift from the current reactive healthcare system to a more proactive model that champions the patient and gives clinicians the information they need,” said Mariah Scott, director of sales and marketing for the Intel Digital Health Group.

The recently passed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act provides an impetus to start using new models of care when dealing with chronically ill and aging populations. For respondents, the healthcare reform legislation will have the “biggest impact” on healthcare delivery in the next five years, and they have “high confidence” that the law will accelerate the adoption of telehealth, according to the report.

Clinical decision makers named reimbursement is the primary barrier to telehealth adoption. Following reimbursement, concerns that clinical staff and patients will be unable to successfully use new technologies, despite strong evidence to the contrary in pilot studies, remain a major barrier to adoption, the report authors reported.

Penn Schoen Berland conducted 75 phone interviews with healthcare and IT professionals in the U.S., who play a role in determining telehealth adoption and implementation within their organizations. Intel reported the margin of error is +/-11.3 percent.