Telemedicine (also known as telehealth) is revolutionizing all aspects of healthcare, including medical device sales.
In their 2016 State Telehealth Laws and Medicaid Program Policies report, the National Telehealth Resource Policy Center reported that 47 states (and Washington, D.C.) currently provide reimbursement for live video in Medicaid fee-for-service.
The report collected telehealth data from all 50 states, regardless of whether or not the state currently has a telehealth program. No two states are alike in telehealth definition and regulation, however, data uncovered that there are some shared consistencies.
Meanwhile, patients are on board with the telehealth trend because it ensures they are likely to receive more immediate healthcare. In fact, a 2017 American Well Telehealth Consumer Index Survey found that 67 percent of patients surveyed have been delaying care for a health problem because of time and cost. The online survey canvassed more than 4,100 people across the United States.
One in five respondents also said they’d switch to a physician offering telehealth visits, regardless of their proximity to the doctor’s office. Furthermore, 79 percent of consumers surveyed who are currently caring for an ill or aging relative said a multi-way video telehealth service would be helpful.
While in-office physician visits aren’t expected to completely cease, telehealth requires fewer resources and fewer medical devices. On the other hand, some products, such as home monitoring devices, will actually see an increase in demand and sales.
As more physicians are pushing for telehealth solutions, it’s important for medical sales reps to realize the challenges and opportunities of telehealth. Here is a breakdown of what you can expect:
1. Why Telehealth?
There are many reasons why both doctors and patients have embraced telehealth. Virtual visits save time and reduce cost (no travel, no required time off, fewer scheduling conflicts and delays).
Patients who live in rural areas or, otherwise, have difficulty getting to in-office appointments benefit from telehealth options. In fact, a case study by the American Telemedicine Association found the availability of telehealth directly benefits patients in hard-to-reach areas.
The flexibility of telehealth also allows for brief check-ups and appointments during non-traditional hours (evenings, weekends).
Telehealth has expanded past the traditional check-ups, with platforms such as Virtual Medical Staff, offering services such as psychiatric services and neurological services. Their mission is to provide people in hard to reach and underserved areas with access to quality, cost-effective medical care.
2. Telehealth Forecast
Telehealth is expected to generate more than $36 billion in revenue by 2020, according to the aforementioned American Well survey. The report suggests video visits will drastically cut patient wait time and diagnosis time.
Options for telehealth run the full medical spectrum, from chronic care to birth control.
Along with time savings, the primary draw for patients is cost savings. That State Telehealth Policies report found patients choosing telehealth could save up to 75 percent by choosing remote visit options.
3. Telehealth and the Future of Medical Device Sales
There will be an increased need for medical computers and tablets. Mobile medical devices will run the spectrum from blood glucose meters to wireless cardiovascular monitoring devices. Also, physicians will require other telehealth equipment such as:
- video kiosks (telehealth carts) and digital cameras
- telehealth peripherals such as stethoscopes
- software such as MobileCare Monitor, Advanced Fall Detection, and others
- mobile medical/self-monitoring devices
- test kits and first aid
Rest assured, medical device sales will never become obsolete, though you will see a shift in devices being sold and the methods by which you sell them.
Understanding and embracing the changing face of medical device sales is essential for continued success in the field. Telehealth is a trend that will only become more prevalent in the coming years.
By exploring the future of telehealth devices, you’ll be in a position of being on the leading edge of this new equipment and software. You can be of the first to bring these products to your clients.
What are you doing to stay on top of the telehealth trend? Let us know in the comments