What is telehealth and how will it affect you?

The United States telehealth market is poised to exceed $64 billion by 2025, supported by the presence of a large number of mobile and smartphone users coupled with a well-developed telecommunications network, according to Reuters.

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Telehealth increases digital access to health care beyond traditional clinical settings with the use of video-doctor visits and remote patient monitoring tools like online apps. By providing a direct connection between patients and caregivers, it offers providers real-time patient data.

With over 700 health care bills currently waiting to pass in the Senate, legislators are seeking to decrease costs, while providing world-class care. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Texas, introduced legislation in June to lower health care costs, while House Democrats and Republicans recently united to repeal the Obama-era "Cadillac Tax".

Health care providers opt for telemedicine to treat chronically ill patients requiring frequent medical attention and hospitalization. In particular, video consultation is growing as a low-cost alternative to in-person treatment.

Increased costs for technology advancement, infrastructure support and physician support are driving the global telemedicine market, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region. According to Reuters, the Japan telehealth market is poised to surpass $2.7 billion by 2025. They project medical insurance coverage, improved healthcare, rising incomes and urbanization to continue this trend.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, video-based telepsychiatry also meets patients’ needs for convenient, affordable and readily-accessible mental health services by minimizing delays in care, cutting potential transportation and time-based barriers, and reducing stigma. Several telepsychiatry apps are available including LARKR, Talkspace, and Pacifica.

Other major areas of emerging telemedicine are telehealth nursing and telehealth physical therapy, or telePT, which allow frequent management of patients remotely. According to Forbes, success with surgical artificial intelligence and virtual clinical trials can reduce medical malpractice and high costs associated with trials.

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Legislators seek cost-cutting alternatives while improving access to digital health in an emerging market that may provide the answers. The World Health Organization released its first guidelines for digital health care in April, but the U.S. digital health care market remains unregulated.