February 17th, 2012
This article is a general overview of the disappointments of the slow adoption of telemedicine, a provision of healthcare or medical information/services through communication lines or broadband connection. This technology has been around for decades, and while it has great potential for solving problems of global healthcare (especially in developing countries) the adoption of this technology has been less rapid than hoped. Jamie Yap, the author of the article, discusses a few reasons for the slow adoption of telemedicine.
1. One of the most prevalent reasons for low adoption rates was the lack of official government support as well as insurance companies in reimbursing patients for the cost of telemedicine services and devices. Clinical reimbursement is one initiative that would provide motivation for people to use telemedicine services.
2. A lack of broadband penetration in emerging markets such as Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Limited availability of broadband networks is also serving as a large infrastructure related obstacles in large, rural populations such as India and China. Low broadband availability also means that there is less awareness among practitioners and patients towards the benefits of telemedicine. This awareness also creates obstacles in a legal sense as some practitioners are reluctant to use telemedicine because of legal issues surrounding possible medical indemnity issues.
3. Patients above the age of 65 experience hesitation or difficulty in adopting this new technology. However, the elderly is a group that could likely experience great benefits from the adoption of this technology.
4. Most telemedicine projects tend to be government-funded initiatives that lack private sector support. This leads to a lack of sustainability in the initiatives once government funds run out. There needs to be a unified effort between government and private sectors in order to promote sustainable telemedicine initiatives.
Hopefully the future of telemedicine will be bright. A new wave of medical school students are being educated in the areas of telemedicine. This new focus in education will help to promote awareness of the benefits and opportunities that telemedicine adoption presents.