What’s in store when it comes to the future of healthcare?The Virtual Doctor Is In    If You Have a Smartphone or Tablet   telemedicine tablet smartphone eMarketer

Well, the doctor will still be in — if you have a smartphone or a tablet. It’s all “virtual,” of course, but it just might be a good thing.

Virtual care is a big trend in the connected healthcare marketplace, according to a new eMarketer report entitled “Connected Health: More than Just Wearables: What Marketers Need to Know About Digitally Enabled Care.”

“Many healthcare stakeholders see a variety of virtual care—sometimes known as remote care—models as an important way to reduce healthcare costs and improve efficiency,” says the report.

Virtual care, one of the health initiatives made possible by telemedicine in general, is “the use of medical information exchanged from one site to another via electronic communications to improve a patient’s clinical health status.”

The outreach can come in a variety of ways: two-way video, email, smartphones, wireless gadgets, and other telecommunications modes.

It’s bound to grow, but it’s already a big deal: more than 46 percent of the 400 recently polled hospitals and medical practices said they use at least one type of telemedicine. The most cited? Videoconferencing.

“Providers who practice virtual care today are already expanding their geographic horizons, making care more accessible to those with mobility issues, using time more effectively and making patient interactions more convenient,” the report summary explains. “Still, remote consultations and digital communication between healthcare providers (HCPs) and patients have been slow to catch on because of concerns about quality, privacy and lack of insurance reimbursement.”

A doctor via webcam? Get a rash checked on Skype? Emails with your doctor? The world of virtual healthcare is already here — and it’s bound to grow in the future.

January 16, 2015 — By

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