Having access to clinical data and being able to predict member risk are key component to lowering the cost of claims for health insurers. Telehealth allows clinical researchers to collect biometric data, patient reported outcome data, and  establish a consultation virtual video connection with the while in their home.

Other beneficial health care technologies, like mobile apps, smart pill bottles, and other Internet-connected devices that help consumers manage their care, send them alerts, and provide them educational resources. While these related technologies do offer insights on the potential benefits of telehealth, this report focuses primarily on physician-to-patient services whereby patients receive physician care from home, a place of work, or any location other than a doctor’s office.

There are multiple types of Telehealth services:

  • Real-time Services: Health care providers interact with patients in real time to provide clinical services as a substitute for in-person encounters. These encounters use communication tools like interactive, two-way video conferencing, online text-based chats and messaging, and the telephone. For example, patients may use their home computer to connect to a doctor using a telehealth service, sharing their medical records and communicating with the doctor in real time via video conferencing. 
  • Store-and-forward Services: Health care providers analyze clinical data after they have been collected using asynchronous communications tools such as email. For example, Teleradiologists may interpret radiological images or ophthalmologists may read retinal images that are sent to them from another facility. 
  •  Remote Monitoring Services: Health care providers use IT to remotely monitor and collect data on the health of patients while in their residence or care facility. For example, remote monitoring has helped reduce mortality and hospital re-admissions in patients with congestive heart failure.3 In one study, patients who used in-home monitoring to track indicators such as their weight, blood pressure, and heart rate, had hospital readmission rates that were 44 percent lower than those receiving standard care.


Telehealth represents an opportunity to not only improve clinical encounters, but also the entire patient experience. Using telehealth services, patients wanting to see a provider will be able to go online, perhaps to a website provided by their health insurer, and quickly find physicians who can see them immediately. Patients will have the opportunity to review the profiles of the physicians, including their medical degrees, board certifications, and patient ratings. Once patients choose a provider, they will be able to make their electronic health records available to the physician. The patient will then be immediately connected to their physician. After the encounter, physicians will send any prescriptions electronically to the patient’s preferred pharmacy and add clinical notes to the patient’s electronic health record. Payment will be handled automatically, and patients will be able to leave feedback for other users. Adoption of telehealth in the United States demand appears to be high and one healthcare report stated that the U.S. adults looked online for health information in the past year. When asked what they did the last time they were sick, 70 percent of individuals responded they sought treatment or information from a healthcare provider. Telemedicine will create new business models to meet consumer demand. Telemedicine will provide strategic pricing options, as more patients focus on costs. Telemedicine will help providers meet Medicare Access and CHIP Re-authorization Act.

There is no widely accepted definition of Telehealth or Telemedicine, and these terms are sometimes used interchangeably.  Telehealth has the potential to greatly expand the reach of medicine, not only in remote areas , telehealth can bring medical care around the globe into the home to meet some primary and urgent care needs. Telehealthcare allow patients to consult with providers from virtually anywhere. Statistics report that has been shown to improve efficiency and lower health care costs through fewer hospital admissions, shorter hospital stays, reduced travel times, and improved management of chronic diseases.  Telemedicine allows non-clinicians to engage specialists to help with diagnosis and treatment, meaning it can strengthen team-based care. The shortage of primary care providers in rural and remote areas, combined with an aging population and millions of newly insured Americans under the Affordable Care Act, provides ample opportunity for telemedicine to flourish.

The  Telehealth Industry