Healthy market: telemedicine takes off for carriers and their partners
Telehealth has been a goal of healthcare providers and network operators for more than 20 years, and now advances in mobile technology are finally making remote access to healthcare affordable and scalable. Tablets and smartphones are facilitating doctor-patient communication and helping to reduce healthcare costs.
“The healthcare industry today has an outrageous amount of cost built into it,” said Patrick Pothier of AT&T business marketing. “What we want to do is look at those applications that will enable the cost to come down, while continuing to improve patient outcomes. So what the healthcare is looking at is actually providing that patient care outside of the four walls of the hospital.” AT&T’s telehealth solution can use a private network or the Internet (with encryption) to transmit patient images to physicians, helping to reduce the number of times a patient has to visit a doctor or hospital to receive care.
The market for telehealth devices and services was worth half a billion dollars in 2013, according to IHS, but is expected to balloon to $4.5 billion by 2018. Mobile operators are well positioned to serve this market and their interest here is creating opportunities for vendors and partners.
TeleCommunication Systems reaches 1,000 physicians with VirtuMedix
TeleCommunication Systems (TCS) launched its VirtuMedix platform in January and says it is in talks with tier 1 carriers in the U.S. and Canada. The company has already signed three major contracts with healthcare providers.
This week Infinity HealthCare and Emergency Physician Medical Group announced the selection of the TCS VirtuMedix platform to provide secure telemedicine services to patients in the Midwest. The providers will offer a “white label” version of VirtuMedix to their patients.
“The ability to provide an alternative model of care via a mobile device will revolutionize our healthcare delivery, and help us meet the evolving healthcare needs of our patients and partners,” said Dr. Christopher Newton of Emergency Physician Medical Group. He noted that in addition to improving access to healthcare, VirtuMedix has the potential to reduce overall medical costs.
TeleCommunication Systems says VirtuMedix is the first and only telemedicine solution audited for cybersecurity. Security is critical since data is stored in the cloud. Patients can upload data from activity trackers, smartphones and tablets, and can also user their mobile devices to interact with physicians.
“We have a single API that interfaces into 190 wearable devices and that’s expanding every day,” said Jay Whitehurst, president of TCS Communications’ commercial software group.
Whitehurst said that the company’s legacy infrastructure and experience serving telecom partners offer unique advantages for service providers. For example, VirtuMedix can not only connect patients to physicians, it can also create real-time maps to show the way to the nearest healthcare facility if needed. The platform also enables multiple doctors to see the incoming patient requests, so that that the most qualified physician can answer each call. “A message is dispatched to a group of doctors on call and they opt to take the session,” said Whitehurst.
Healthcare is one of three key verticals TCS is currently targeting; Whitehurst said that the others are financial services and online gaming.
Emveno launches teleMED assist
This week mobile virtual network operator Emveno launched Seniors Wireless, featuring 24/7 mobile access to doctors for $1.00 per day. The service is called teleMED assist and is available to anyone 55 or older, including those who are not customers of Emveno or Seniors Wireless.
Users of teleMED assist will be able to call or video chat emergency-trained physicians at any time for any reason, according to Emveno. Doctors will be able to prescribe medicine and make referrals via teleconference.