Telemedicine lies in the forefront of innovation for the healthcare industry. Using a combination of telecommunications and technology, healthcare can be provided from a distance, providing essential coverage to people in rural communities, among others, who may not have ready access to medical facilities.
Monitoring is especially important to people with chronic diseases such as diabetes, congestive heart failure and COPD, who without regular follow-up may experience life threatening conditions that necessitate expensive emergency room visits and hospital admissions.
The global telemedicine market, Grand View Research noted in a report released in April, is expected to reach US$113 billion by 2025, up from US$24.9 billion in 2016, a compound annual growth rate of 18%. The research firm stated that the key drivers are the increasing numbers of chronic conditions and the rising demand for self-care. The "enhancing application of Internet, virtual medicine and rising demand for centralization of healthcare are expected to save on cost incurred, which is one of the critical success factors attributing for the growth of telemedicine market," research firm noted.
A recent KPMG-commissioned survey found that about one-third of healthcare providers are using patient monitoring and video services "to improve patient engagement and access to care and more of these programs are likely to come." While the study conducted by HIMSS Analytics found 31% of healthcare organizations were using video-based services and 34% provided remote monitoring, growth is foreseen as an additional 44% expect to add video-based services and 48% are planning for remote monitoring.
There is growing acceptance of telemedicine. A recent Harris Poll survey found that 65% of consumers who had a primary care physician said they were open to seeing their doctor by video. Among parents with children under age 18, over three-quarters, 78%, expressed interest.
"Reliq expects to enroll 'at least 1,000 new patients per month through 2018.'"
Reliq Health Technologies Inc. (RHT:TSX.V; RQHTF:OTCQB) is another company active in the industry. The Vancouver-based firm has developed a telemedicine platform that is quickly gaining traction: its iUGO health technology platform is a "comprehensive hardware and software solution that allows complex patients to receive high quality care in the home, improving health outcomes, enhancing quality of life for patients & families and reducing the cost of care delivery."
Reliq just announced that it reached the milestone of 1,000 paid subscribers, who are now using its "chronic care management, remote patient monitoring and telemedicine solution, representing recurring monthly revenue of US$50,000 per month."
Dr. Lisa Crossley, Reliq's CEO, stated, "This is a critical milestone for Reliq as we move forward with our roll out to over 40,000 patients." The company had earlier announced that it had contracted with Paz Home Health and Rio Grande Valley Health Alliance, both Texas-based, to provide remote patient monitoring.
The 1,000-patient mark is just the beginning: Dr. Crossley noted that the company expects to enroll "at least 1,000 new patients per month through 2018 with these two contracts, which together are worth over US$26 million annually in recurring revenue at full deployment." Reliq currently has a market cap of approximately CA$25 million.
"Two contracts are worth over US$26 million annually in recurring revenue at full deployment."
In the U.S., chronic conditions comprise more than 80% of healthcare costs in 2015, according to Reliq, costing $2.6 trillion. Medicare and Medicaid now fine hospitals for "preventable readmissions"—in 2015, 76% of hospitals incurred Medicare/Medicaid readmission penalties—so hospitals have the financial incentive to actively avoid readmissions.
Reliq also is conducting a pilot program with the Feldman Institute in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with patients who are discharged after interventional pain management surgery, and is working with the Ontario Ministry of Health to develop a pilot program to improve health outcomes for remote First Nations' diabetes patients.
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