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Trends in E-visits

By August 14, 2014Commentary

A brief from the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions does a quick assessment of the status of eVisits.     (Deloitte Brief)   For several years the technology has existed to allow patients to have a video consultation, either through their own computers or through various kiosk-type capabilities, with a doctor or other health professional.  In the kiosk model, the provider may even be able to take simple diagnostic measures, such as blood pressure, temperature, etc.  Another form of eVisit is asynchronous, where the patient fills out a form online describing their symptoms or issues and a health professional reviews and responds within a short-time, usually the same day.  Deloitte says that in 2014 there will be 100 million eVisits globally, a 400% growth rate from 2012.  About 75 million of these visits are estimated to be in North America.  There are around 600 million primary care office visits annually in the United States and Canada and half are for problems that an eVisit could be used for.  The total global savings from the current level of eVisits is projected at around $5 billion and Deloitte says that the potential global market is worth $50 to $60 billion.  Technological advances, concerns about provider capacity, general receptivity of consumers to online receipt of services and payer acceptance are all factors encouraging the growth of this method of receiving services.  The costs are lower because the visits generally are using marginal capacity, there could be less fixed costs in building and equipment, and less staff may be needed for office management, etc.  Barriers include some lingering physician resistance, regulatory issues related to scope of practice for nurse practitioners and other non-physicians, state licensing regimes and lack of acceptance by some patient groups.  This is one very positive trend within health care; an example of a development that has the potential to improve access, lower the cost of care, while maintaining quality.  Regulators should do everything they can to encourage the use and growth of eVisits.

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