Should Telemedicine Cost So Much?

Posted August 8, 2011 3:34 pm by Adam Rule

Okay, close your eyes and think of how we generally deliver telemedicine. You’re in a room. There are usually big, complicated pieces of equipment either on carts or secured to the wall. You have a codec, a bigger-than-you-really-need screen (because a vendor upsold you) and if you’re really lucky you have a confounded touch-screen control system running the whole thing. All this to do telemedicine. Is it really necessary?

Did we, the consumers, decide to end up here? Did the nature of telemedicine and its complicated privacy needs and pushing of large images and files get us here? Or has the technology not yet evolved? Surely I’m not the only one who’s had this thought.

Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to deliver telemedicine over devices we already own? Devices that are ubiquitous. Devices that need no special training to operate. Wouldn’t it be nice to start a telemedicine program without having to pay $15K for a unit?  In the same way Netflix shook up the digital content world with its streaming, I think a few new products could do that for telemedicine.

As a friend who trains in telehealth recently said, “The legacy players are going to be playing catch-up soon, especially with tablet use rising.”

You can do telemedicine on this too!I’m not pushing a particular product here. I’m pushing an idea. A movement, hopefully. For telemedicine to become fully adopted it must be widely available over affordable equipment. I believe if the cost barrier is lowered other key things will follow: reimbursement, credentialing/licensure, I think we’ll get there. I hope this news is a key step.

Think about how much time we’ve all spent trying to train folks on the technology. We have a recent blog on this site which addresses people’s technology anxiety, for Pete’s sake. I have faith that the technology will catch up. Do you?