A telehealth industry update for life science information, regulatory and competitive intelligence professionals.
In prior posts, we have discussed the rise of telehealth and telemedicine. Amidst growing consumer interest in convenient, remote and on-demand services—all of which are enabled by technological advances in both hardware and software—telehealth remains a healthcare market segment to watch.
As previously reported here, recent shakeups in the telehealth industry have left stakeholders and consumers unsure what to expect. The closure of HealthSpot’s telemedicine kiosks in February 2016 led some to question the stability and future of telehealth generally, and the fate of retail telehealth models specifically. Of particular note was the end of HealthSpot’s partnerships with Cleveland Clinic and Rite Aid.
Now, however, Cleveland Clinic is back in the telemedicine spotlight. Last week the healthcare giant announced a new initiative that merges the retail clinic model, the on-demand convenience of telemedicine and the prestige of a specialty hospital: Cleveland Clinic will partner with CVS’s Minute Clinics and American Well to offer online and mobile telehealth services in Ohio and West Virginia. Minute Clinic customers will utilize American Well’s telehealth platform to gain access to Cleveland Clinic practitioners.
The new Cleveland Clinic project is making waves in the industry, both in its own right and as an important piece of a much larger trend. The three-way partnership builds on pre-existing programs and initiatives. Cleveland Clinic had already incorporated the American Well platform into its system for telemedicine programs such as MyCare Online and Express Care. mobihealthnews discusses these initiatives, along with Cleveland Clinic’s health kiosk agreements with Pursuant Health and the now-defunct HealthSpot. CVS, for its part, had already established relationships with three major telehealth companies, including American Well, Doctor on Demand and Teladoc.
Although previous inroads and partnerships have been important, this particular collaboration may be especially influential, due to its multidisciplinary nature and to the size and significance of the players involved. As noted by Samsung’s Insights, such “collaborations between healthcare powerhouses may mark a new era in telehealth.”
In its discussion of the project, Fast Company notes that, amidst skyrocketing demand, “telehealth is expected to be worth $34.27 billion by the end of 2020.” Cleveland Clinic, then, is taking steps to ensure that it keeps pace with a “hot market” in healthcare, making it the first major academic medical center to partner with a convenient care clinic to offer telehealth services, according to CEO Ido Schoenberg. (Such innovation does come with difficulties, however, and Fast Company also points out the inherent limitations of telehealth, including legal and regulatory obstacles, insurance roadblocks, and the unavoidable reality that some visits require face-to-face contact for diagnosis and treatment.)
The project is not just about embracing technology, however. Cleveland Clinic spokesman Peter Rasmussen, MD, emphasizes the importance of offering convenience to customers and “remov[ing] barriers to great care like time, travel and distance.” According to Rasmussen, 95% of Cleveland Clinic’s telehealth patients “were highly satisfied” with their experience.
Removing barriers to care and increasing patient access to physicians may prove to be one of telehealth’s most significant contributions. Retail-based models like the new Cleveland Clinic initiative are an important piece of the puzzle and may pave the way for other key developments. The Insights piece notes that, while large organizations currently drive the telehealth movement, in-home telemedicine services are extremely valuable as well. Both large-scale models, such as retail kiosks, and personal applications, such as those designed for tablets and smartphones, stand to offer significant benefits to patients.
With major players entering—and disrupting—the telehealth space, the combination of convenience, popularity and connectivity seems poised to promote continued growth and innovation. The Cleveland Clinic project is just one example of telemedicine’s potential, and surely others are soon to follow.
We will continue to monitor growth and trends in this important area of the healthcare market, keeping information, regulatory and competitive intelligence professionals updated and informed.
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