Telemedicine has become a feasible alternative for smaller rural medical facilities to provide routine as well as specialized services. It has improved both the access to, as well as the standard of care in underserved areas.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (patientmonitoring.frost.com), Telemedicine in the North American Rural Healthcare Environment, reveals that the market was expected to earn $700 million in 2006.
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The healthcare industry is waking up to the potential of telemedicine in solving critical issues of rising costs, ageing population, and staff shortage in rural America. With 25 percent of the people living in rural areas and 22 percent of this population falling under the senior citizens category, telemedicine is expected to be a boon to these areas.
"In 2006, the rural market constituted nearly 70 percent of the total telemedicine market in North America, implying a revenue size of approximately $700 million," says Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Diego Levitin.
Apart from having inadequate healthcare resources such as fewer physicians and hospitals, people living in these regions have higher poverty rates, poorer health, lesser education, and lower levels of insurance coverage than people living in urban areas. Such discrepancies have made a strong case for telemedicine in the North American rural healthcare environment.
To tap into the complete potential of the telemedicine in rural areas, providers will have to address the issue of limited reimbursement policies for telemedicine. They also have to deal with several legal and regulatory issues regarding physician licensing, policy, laws, and liability.
Nevertheless, the telemedicine venture is greatly helped along by technological advances and ongoing federal support for telemedicine programs and funding for investment in telecommunications infrastructure.
"A prominent government program, Rural Health Clinics, is designed to increase availability and accessibility, as well as stabilize the provision of outpatient primary care through physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and certified nurse midwives," notes Levitin. "Another program, the Rural Health Care Program, provides rural healthcare providers (HCPs) with telecommunications services, Internet access, and satellite broadband communications at reduced rates."
Telemedicine in the North American Rural Healthcare Environment is part of the Patient Monitoring Growth Partnership Service, which includes research services in the following markets: Markets for ECG Monitoring Devices; Markets for Cardiac Diagnostic Services; Central Station Patient Monitoring Markets; and U.S. Pulse Oximetry Monitoring Equipment Market. All research services included in subscriptions provide detailed market opportunities and industry trends evaluated following extensive interviews with market participants. Interviews with the press are available.
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