UnitedHealth Group and Cisco have announced a joint venture to create telemedicine services. The venture will use Cisco’s hardware and software and UHG’s health and care management expertise to use technology to distribute medical expertise to underserved areas, whether rural or in urban centers. (UHG Press Release) One of the interesting problems in American health care is that while overall there is probably ample capacity for appropriate care, the capacity is often maldistributed and many geographic areas have limited access, especially to specialized care. Ensuring quicker and more expert care may actually assist in reducing overall spending.
General Electric and Intel earlier in the year also agreed upon a venture to use technology to assist in remote medical monitoring. (GE Press Release) These two ventures demonstrate that large corporations, even those not typically thought of as health companies, continue to see significant opportunities in health care and are interested in developing innovative approaches to meet health needs. Some of the health reform proposals also include incentives for telehealth. There are many government barriers to effective and inexpensive implementation of telemedicine, such as licensing, and it would be useful if those could be removed.