Technology has helped us stay connected with more than just family and friends; now, patients across the country have better access to healthcare services as telemedicine expands.

According to the American Telemedicine Association, Telemedicine is defined as, “the use of medical information exchanged from one site to another via electronic communications to improve a patient’s clinical health status.” Using smart device platforms such as video conferencing, patients can quickly and easily connect with physicians regarding their healthcare needs. As telemedicine (also known as “telehealth”) continues to grow in popularity, more providers will offer the services, more patients will realize its benefits, and more insurance companies will cover the costs. These predications are based on the following facts about telemedicine and its growth.

1. Extensive Provider Interest.

About 90% of healthcare organizations already have, or plan to have, telemedicine services. Like most businesses, healthcare organizations must keep up with the current demands of the market. Not only can telemedicine streamline provider services, it can also help attract and maintain patients. In the coming years, new generations of busy Millennials and Generation X-ers will demand quality services that are also fast and efficient. Thus, healthcare organizations must keep up with that demand in order to remain relevant.

2.Extensive Patient Interest.

Currently, there are approximately 350,000 patients utilizing telemedicine services. If the amount continues to grow at a rapid pace, the number of patients could reach 7 million by 2018. Telemedicine appeals to a vast audience of potential patients, from busy families with children to individuals living in rural areas. Telemedicine will bridge the gap between these patients (who may not have the time to physically attend an appointment or who may not have access to proper healthcare services) and their doctors.

3. Increased Insurance Coverage.

As of July 2016, 31 states have passed bills, requiring health insurance companies to cover telemedicine services. The latest state to enact such a bill is Rhode Island. Though it is the smallest state, it took a big leap by requiring insurance companies to cover real-time services, as well as “store and forward” services. Real-time services typically include a live feed between a doctor and a patient, where as store and forward services include the collection of patient data (such as lab results, MRI findings, etc.) for collective analysis at a later date.

4. Increased Employer Benefits.

As telemedicine services grow in popularity, larger employers have been quick to add the services to their benefits package. In fact, since only 2015, there has been a 26% increase in employers who offer these services. With quicker, more efficient access to healthcare services, employers can expect to see fewer sick days and less time off to attend appointments. Depending on the telemedicine provider and the insurance company, it may also cost less per appointment.

5. Domination of the Health IT Field.

Health information technology encompasses a broad range of services, including electronic medical records, electronic prescription transferal, and even devices and wearables that track patient health. Currently, telemedicine comprises approximately one quarter of the market, with an estimated value of more than 15 billion dollars. With continued growth in the field, this number could reach $20 billion by 2019, which is a testament to its usefulness in the healthcare field.

Healthcare organizations and providers who are looking to enter the growing world of telemedicine can expect to encounter numerous benefits. Telemedicine services can help cut costs, while also increasing revenue and reimbursements. For example, video appointments with chronically ill patients can help reduce the number of unnecessary emergency room admissions. At the same time, providers can get reimbursed for conducting such follow-ups with these patients.

Additionally, telemedicine will help healthcare organizations streamline their services. Not only can providers assess individuals with more efficiency, it will also be easier for both patients and providers to connect with specialists. This enhanced proficiency and access will allow providers to experience better clinical outcomes, while also improving the business aspect of the organization. Undoubtedly, telemedicine services will continue to attract and maintain patients, further improving the bottom line.

For providers and physicians who want to join the countless other organizations that provide telemedicine services, Locum Tenens work is a great place to start. Physicians will be able to enter the field without a long-term commitment, and Hospitals or Healthcare systems can connect with the best and brightest physicians with the ease and efficiency that is brought by the telemedicine field.

If you are ready to join the expanding field of telemedicine, feel free to connect with Medstaff, a NALTO member professional staffing firm. With NALTO and Medstaff, keeping up with the demands of the healthcare industry is easier than ever.