Within telehealth, telemedicine has been identified as the most pressing need for healthcare in Asia-Pacific (APAC) as it gives consumers on-demand access to a trusted healthcare professional.
While telemedicine has many definitions, which change based on technology, usage, stakeholders and purpose, its value proposition – anytime, anywhere access to healthcare – enables absolute decentralisation of care delivery, dissolution of provider boundaries, and resource and cost optimisation. Data generated through telehealth will also eventually allow predictive care delivery; concepts that are currently limited to laboratories.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, Analysis of the Telemedicine Market in Asia-Pacific, finds that the market earned revenues of US$239.1 million in 2014 and estimates this to reach US$421.6 million in 2019 at a compound annual growth rate of 12 percent.
Improving access to healthcare services is the primary reason for telemedicine growth in APAC. Even in developed countries like Japan and Australia, there exist large pockets of underserved rural and remote regions that struggle to obtain basic healthcare services. Thus, governments are investing in telemedicine pilots and establishing regulations that promote the development and adoption of telemedicine among consumers.
“However, aiming to use telemedicine for improved healthcare access alone would be myopic considering the potential of these services,” said Frost & Sullivan Healthcare Industry Manager Natasha Gulati. “Since telemedicine services can drive new ways to collaborate across healthcare settings throughout the life of a person, it will have a wide-ranging impact on the continuum of treatment to prevention.”
The very value proposition of telemedicine is expected to leap forward over the next five years. Telemedicine will very soon empower APAC consumers by allowing them to capture and request analytical and actionable health data by themselves.
“Of course, this will not happen through telemedicine alone,” pointed out Gulati. “It requires the integration of several telehealth functionalities such as remote monitoring, mHeath, wearables and platforms. Niche telemedicine providers are already preparing for this industry shift by partnering with healthcare providers, device manufacturers, real estate developers and telecom companies to establish connected ecosystems that efficiently capture and act on patient data.”
As the telemedicine value proposition evolves, so will the business models. Current telemedicine models are largely targeted towards healthcare providers as they can reap tangible benefits in terms of reduced costs and access to a larger patient base.
For now, consumer adoption of telemedicine in APAC is low due to the absence of reimbursement schemes. Progressive regulations and technological advancements that make telemedicine more affordable will enable the gradual entry of direct-to-consumer business models, which symbolise the anticipated power shift to consumers.